People, Planet & Peace
The Massachusetts Affiliate of the Green Party of the United States

2015 11 23 Activist Trial


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 19, 2015

Who:  Danny Factor, Green-Rainbow Party Secretary, and environmental activist

What:  Factor will stand trial at the Cambridge District Court in Medford for criminal trespassing regarding his act of civil disobedience in defense of  Silver Maple Forest.

Where: Cambridge District Court
             4040 Mystic Valley Parkway, Medford.
When:  Monday, November 23, 2015
                8:00  A.M. Mr. Factor, along with ecologist David Morimoto, will speak to the 
                                 press outside the courthouse.

                9:00  A.M.  Trial is scheduled to begin.
               A statement will also be made outside the Courthouse after the trial has 

Contact:  Wes Nickerson
Phone: 617-417-4226


In what Green-Rainbow Party activist Danny Factor describes as an "opportunity to educate ourselves as to why we need forests" Factor will stand trial in front of a jury at the Cambridge District Court in Medford on Monday, November 23rd for his act of civil disobedience in defense of the Silver Maple Forest.

In October 2014, Factor and 12 other activists (including GRP members Joanna Herlihy and Ben Beckwith) were arrested for trespassing in Silver Maple Forest as part of an effort by community groups to try to prevent a Pennsylvania developer from cutting down the forest to build a 298 unit housing complex (mostly luxury condos) and a parking lot with 500 spaces. Silver Maple Forest, described by one environmental group as "unique and fragile wildlife habitat"  was located at the intersection of the towns of Cambridge, Arlington, and Belmont. Factor has pleaded not guilty to the charges, stating that his act of walking into the forest once the felling of trees had started, was one of absolute necessity. 

Factor, who is currently the Secretary of the Green-Rainbow Party, was arrested while he was the Green-Rainbow Party candidate for Secretary of the Commonwealth. Factor and his Republican challenger, Dave D'Arcangelo became the only candidates in twenty years to succeed in forcing Secretary of State William Galvin to an hour long debate, one in which Factor advocated that elected officials must view climate change as a crisis and must prioritize preserving our green spaces. 

The Silver Maple Forest protest last Fall that Factor took part in resulted in a court issuing a temporary injunction to the felling of the forest, only for the order to be lifted shortly after. In the end, over 700 maple trees were cut down, and a building permit has now been issued by the town of Belmont for the housing complex.  

”Silver Maple Forest  was one of the last forests left in the metro-Boston Area." Factor stated.  "When legal and political efforts to preserve the forest were unsuccessful, direct action was necessary in order to try to save such an irreplaceable ecosystem. One developer’s wish to profit should not trump the rights communities have to control their local ecosystem and their own well being.”

Friends of the Alewife Reservation (FAR), a regional non-profit, and director, Ellen Mass have been the leading advocates in and out of court, galvanizing municipal support in the difficult fight to save the Silver Maple Forest from the developer’s axe for more than fifteen years.  “Before much of the forest was cut down last fall", Mass said, “our group  published inventories showing that the forest was home to a vast quantity of flora and fauna, including maple trees which store millions of gallons of water, helping to mitigate the risk of flooding. The seven acre forest also stored carbon in tree canopies and sequestered it into the soil, helping to mitigate the effects of climate change. The destruction of this forest is a tragedy," Mass further stated. "because Silver Maple Forest was already part of a threatened watershed ecosystem. This area was recently noted with concern in the four year Cambridge Climate Study. Our cities and towns have a D minus from the US-EPA. More trees have been slated to come down by Belmont Power and Light at Blair Pond at Brighton Street near the Cambridge- Belmont border. Forests and meadows such as these are some of the last places where we should be building.  I am glad that Danny Factor and the other protesters are advocating for preserving our forests and wetland floodplain areas,” Mass stated. FAR has been conducting educational walks, an ecology camp and cleanups at the Alewife Reservation for nine years. FAR is seeking more volunteers for protection of the Reservation and its environs.

Last June, the presiding judge in the case, Hon. Michelle Hogan, denied Factor the right to raise a defense of 'necessity' and deemed the testimony of Factor's expert witnesses not relevant and immaterial, even though Judge Hogan never heard the witnesses testimony. Trial was originally scheduled to take place last Spring, but has delayed three times for administrative reasons.

Factor had planned to have ecologist David Morimoto testify to the fact that deforestation is destroying the planet's life support systems for humans, creating a degraded environment that results in a decline in biodiversity that has already resulted in a mass extinction of species. Dr. Morimoto would have also expressed concerns that deforestation causes a loss of several important ecosystem services, from hydrological processing to temperature mediation, the removal of pollutants, and the many psychological and health benefits of passive recreation. "Forest biodiversity is an absolute  necessity for human life and the fight to preserve it begins in each and every forest on the planet, including the Alewife Reservation and Silver Maple Forest." Morimoto said.  "We must unite to preserve our forests and fight those who seek to develop land for their own selfish profit. We need to support direct actions like those of Danny Factor, which intervene on the side of people and our planet." Since Dr. Morimoto was not permitted to testify, he will give listeners a taste of what his testimony would have contained, when he speaks along with Factor outside the courthouse at 8:00 a.m.

Factor says that if a jury finds him guilty while being barred from hearing Dr, Morimoto's testimony, he may file an appeal. Factor stated that "due process calls for the right of an accused to present a defense, especially when a defendant's motivation was for the sake of a public good."

At trial, Factor will attempt to explain why it is in everyone's interest for forests like Silver Maple Forest to remain. "Silver Maple Forest sat in a floodplain only five to eight feet above sea level. Part of what makes forests so necessary is that they act as natural sponges, retaining rainwater and prevent flooding and toxic sediments from seeping into neighborhoods. At the same time, when a forest is cut down, more carbon is released into the atmosphere exacerbating our climate change crisis. When you add that deforestation is causing a mass extinction of species, you see that the effect of cutting down forests is local, regional and global. To cut it down is the height of irresponsibility." Factor stated.

Roni Beal, Co-Chair of the Green-Rainbow Party stated that  "actions like Danny Factor's become necessary when we have a broken political system. Here we have a rich forest that protects our planet in so many ways, and no government institution whether it be the towns, Commonwealth or Federal Government were willing to protect it. Danny and the other protester's actions were a last resort but a necessary one."  Co-chair David Gerry added "much of the problem is the corporate run political system in which elected officials are more beholden to out-of-state developers and lobbyists than to their constituents.  In contrast, the Green-Rainbow Party plans to run candidates in 2016 who are true environmental stewards." The Green-Rainbow Party will hold a primary for President and other local offices on March 1, 2016.  
Factor, an attorney, will represent himself, and will be assisted by Somerville Attorney, Neil Berman. Both Factor and Berman are members of the National Lawyers Guild who assisted all of the Silver Maple Forest arrestees. Factor, who lives in Acton with his partner, Nadia Franciscono and their eighteen year- old son, that after speaking with his family, he has rejected any plea deal stating that "I have done nothing wrong. I am only trying to help the planet and all of our children and future generations. I will accept nothing less than the dropping of the charges against me and the restoration of Silver Maple Forest. The people and all living things deserve that."

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