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Today was training day for the action tomorrow (Sunday) at the gates of the coal-fired generating plant at Brayton Point, Somerset, Massachusetts, the largest such facility in New England. (According to the organizers, the plant emitted 6 million tons of CO2 in 2010, along with 15,000 tons of mercury, arsenic, lead, and other pollutants.)

Making signs for demonstration at Brayton Point coal plant
Making signs for the Brayton Point action
The action is part of the "Summer Heat" series sponsored by 350.org. It is intended to put pressure on Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick to use the authority given to him by the state's 2008 Global Warming Solutions Act, to set allowable carbon emission levels low enough that the plant will have to close. The demand includes a "just transition" ensuring alternate economic opportunities for the displaced workers and the community, and development of renewable energy to replace the electricity generated by the plant.

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Today's training was held at the Open Table of Christ United Methodist Church in South Providence. About 150 people crammed into a gymnasium with terrible accoustics but great energy. Perhaps 50 of those were preparing for arrest; the others (including me) were there as support, marshalls, trainers, or just curiosity. Some were trying to decide whether to risk arrest or not.

The crowd was a mix of young and grey-hairs.

Participants from Western Mass.
Most came from Massachusetts, with some from Rhode Island and New York, and buses expected from Vermont and Maine. One man, sporting a "Stop Mountaintop Mining" hat, flew in from West Virginia. The training was mandatory only for those anticipating arrest, and several hundred more participants are expected tomorrow. T-shirts revealed links with Occupy Sandy, wind development, and a variety of past actions, as well as the sponsoring 350.Massachusetts.

The action seems very well organized. There was a chance for participants to pair up and share what motivated us to participate, and post mugshots with summaries on the website. Participants were asked to agree to a discipline of nonviolence, both physical and verbal. The medical team gave advice on what to bring (and not bring). A legal team from the Massachusetts National Lawyers Guild, including public defenders who work in Fall River District Court, gave a detailed presentation on what people could expect if they chose to get arrested. ("Of course as lawyers we would never counsel anyone to violate the law. But if you do. . . .")

Musical group Melodeego teach songs
Peter Malagodi and Melodeego teach songs
The musical group Melodeego taught the crowd two songs they wrote for the occasion.

The Somerset Police Department (29 officers, total) considers this the biggest thing that has ever happened in town. According to the Fall River Herald News, they have enlisted help from twenty surrounding towns, the State Police (complete with SWAT team and helicopter), the county sheriff's office, the Coast Guard, and all the riot gear and hardware all the agencies have bought with Homeland Security and drug forfeiture money. One of the police liasons reported, however, that the police chief's daughter is planning to join the march and another officer has participated in previous actions at the plant, so it is hoped that the police will not be overly aggressive.

I've been feeling for a long time that civil disobedience was needed to put more urgency into climate change issues. I'm not in a position myself to get arrested right now, but want to support those who are willing to take that risk. So I'll be out there tomorrow, and will try to post another report when I get home. There may also be liveblogging at http://summerheatbraytonpoint.org/...

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