WAMC News
5:14 pm
Tue July 31, 2012

Protesters Converge on Burlington for Governors and Premiers Conference

While Governors from across New England and Premiers from the eastern provinces of Canada were meeting at the Hilton in Burlington, outside there were protesters. On Sunday they were a bit unruly, but on Monday they were much more subdued.

Sunday evening when many delegates tried to leave the conference hotel protesters blocked their buses.  That led to an altercation between a small number of the protesters and Burlington police, who used pepper balls and stingball pellets to control the crowd. On Monday protests were much quieter. About a block up the hill from the Hilton a few dozen Occupy New England members gathered in Battery Park to listen to speakers, musicians and watch the Bread and Puppet Theater perform. 

Bread and Puppet Theater performers at Occupy New England 7-30-12
Credit WAMC

Resident Puppetteer Katherine Nook hopes that the governors and premiers understand that there is unrest.

While representatives of protest groups say police overreacted on Sunday, Burlington’s police chief praised his officers.  Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin agreed.

Governor Shumlin added that the work done at the conference should align with what protesters want.

North Coast First Nation citizen Elyse Vollant traveled from northern Quebec to Burlington. She is an activist who has been protesting HydroQuebec development on the Innu tribal lands, despite tribal councils' acceptance of the projects.    She was not allowed to ask leaders to stop buying Hydro Quebec power.

Not all criticism came from the protesters.  John Williamson, Member of Parliment from New Brunswick Southwest, is displeased with the leaders’ discussion of tar sands.

The 36th Annual New England Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers Conference concluded on Monday evening.