Turners Falls climate activist waves chained to boat in front of governor’s house
TURNERS FALLS – Like a real captain, climate activist Nora Maynard sank with her ship as she was arrested for her protest outside Gov. Charlie Baker’s residence in Swampscott on September 28.
Working with Extinction Rebellion, an international climate activism organization, Maynard was arrested alongside seven other protesters for disorderly conduct and trespassing.
According to a Massachusetts State Police statement, Maynard and his peers “blocked a public road … obstructing traffic” as they chained to a large pink boat in front of Baker’s residence. Maynard, who refuted those claims, expressed no regrets, saying she planned to continue to innovate aggressively to advocate for climate reform.
Maynard said the goal of Extinction Rebellion is to demand attention and fight what they claim to be an apathetic and slow response to climate change from the Baker administration. She also said that the opinions of her and her peers had not been sufficiently taken into account in previous public hearings.
“I think the point here was to put Governor Baker under some form of citizen arrest because we feel like our voices haven’t been heard in the past,” Maynard said.
Maynard was particularly critical of Baker’s “law creating a next-generation roadmap for Massachusetts climate policy,” which would have enabled Massachusetts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to “net zero” by 2050.
“We think it’s way too late and that will basically doom us,” Maynard said.
Maynard said the Extinction Rebellion protest ship, a hot pink boat labeled “CLIMATE EMERGENCY” on the port side, portended what could result from Baker’s lack of action.
“There is something symbolic about a boat,” said Maynard, who chained herself to the trailer near the bow of the boat. “This area of Swampscott will be underwater when the sea level rises.”
She added that the sheer “absurdity” of the visual was impactful in itself.
“In general, some of the biggest and most subversive ideas we’ve come up with have come from buffoons,” Maynard said. “I feel like it’s very powerful to have a little bit of silliness to accompany an important message.”
However, the police did not take the protest lightly. They attempted to disperse the activists due to their alleged obstruction of traffic, a claim disputed by Maynard, saying they only took up space in the parking lane. After Maynard and other protesters refused to disperse, soldiers cut chains binding seven people to the boat and its underlying trailer to stop them.
“When the police first approached us, they told us they would tow the boat with us still attached to it and drag us on the ground,” she said.
She added that the police tried to shame and downplay their method of protest.
“At one point the police tried to make us feel guilty because we traumatized school children with our statement,” she said. “In the end, it was the police who brought in the power tools and guns.”
Maynard said that before she was released later that afternoon, police treated her well in custody, but repeatedly tried to extract more information from her. She said they were particularly interested in the details surrounding the boat, for which she said she had few answers.
“They tried to keep getting more information from us all the time,” she said.
In addition to attending events with various bands, Maynard is a musician and director and founder of the WholeTone Music Academy, a music school that she took with her when she moved from Somerville to Turners Falls. She said she had organized a “protest choir class” twice in the past and would use music as a medium during Extinction Rebellion protests by conducting songs and chants.
Going forward, Maynard hopes to continue his activism with strategies that not only promote a “regenerative culture” but turn heads.
“We got people’s attention,” she said. “If a few people start asking more questions, then we’ve been successful.”
Contact Julian Mendoza at 413-772-0261, ext. 261 or [email protected]