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Protesters Stage 'Knit-in' At Vermont Gas Offices

Taylor Dobbs
Jane Palmer of Monkton was arrested when she refused to leave the Vermont Gas Company building after close of business.

One woman was arrested and four others were served trespass warnings at a “knit-in” protest at Vermont Gas Systems’ headquarters in South Burlington Wednesday.

Jane Palmer of Monkton was arrested for trespassing when she refused to stop knitting and leave the building at the close of business at 5 p.m.

Palmer and four other protesters staged the homespun demonstration in the lobby of Vermont Gas Systems offices in opposition to the company’s plans to extend a natural gas pipeline through Addison County.

Palmer was knitting what appeared to be a turquoise scarf, and had knitted about eight inches of it before Vermont Gas closed at 5 p.m.

Equipped with knitting needles, yarn and matching red T-shirts, the five women worked on various projects – none of them said what, specifically, they were knitting, other than “pipeline cozies” – as they waited for a meeting with Vermont Gas officials.

Vermont Gas Vice President Eileen Simollardes came to the lobby and spoke with the women, telling them politely that she would be willing to meet with them if they had called ahead and scheduled a meeting, but she would not meet with them Wednesday.

The protesters said they live along the route of the proposed pipeline and that Vermont Gas employees and contractors have entered their property without permission and misled the public about the company’s intentions.

As the women aired their grievances in the lobby, Simollardes gave a press briefing outside the building. When asked what Simollardes said outside, Vermont Gas employee Tom Murray said to catch the remarks on another news outlet.

Murray asked the media to leave the headquarters at 5 p.m. Murray physically pushed Seven Days reporter Kathryn Flagg toward the door when she did not immediately comply.

The five knitters and another activist who was video recording the demonstration on their behalf stayed in the building after it closed. When the activists were served with formal trespass warnings, all but Palmer left the building.

At least five South Burlington police cars were on hand for the arrest, which took place a short time later.

As the cruiser carrying Palmer away from the scene passed her knitting friends waved from the driveway.

It is unclear if she was allowed to continue her knitting at the police station.

Taylor was VPR's digital reporter from 2013 until 2017. After growing up in Vermont, he graduated with at BA in Journalism from Northeastern University in 2013.
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