Protesters avoid arrest, choose criminal citation instead

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Climate activists who held an afternoon-long sit-in in Gov. Charlie Baker's office lobby Wednesday said they'd be arrested or stay there all night if Baker didn't sign an executive order aimed at discouraging new fossil fuel infrastructure. But their protest quietly ended after the building had largely cleared out when they accepted a fourth option, a criminal citation.

"The police came in a little before 5:30 and told us the office closed at 5:30, and the building at 6. They said our options were either to leave at 5:30 when the office closed, or if we refused they would issue a criminal citation or arrest us," organizer Evan Seitz explained to the News Service an in email. "They made it clear they would not let us stay into the evening or overnight. The charges for a criminal citation and the charges issued if they arrested us would be the same. And either way they were forcing us to leave. The group decided to accept a criminal citation."

Earlier in the day, the protesters sat cross-legged on the floor in front of Baker's receptionist's desk. At 5:30 p.m., a number of protesters left as the office closed but others, including Better Future Project executive director Craig Altemose, stayed behind. Building security officials entered the lobby and talked to the protesters behind closed doors. After talking things over, they walked out with a State House ranger.

"The police indicated a strong preference to skip the paperwork and hassle on their end of having to cuff us, drag us to jail, process us, and then release us. We agreed to save them that hassle, and us as well, but the legal consequences for us will not differ," Altemose told the News Service Thursday, saying several protesters would be charged with trespassing on state property and unlawful assembly.


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