PRESS ADVISORY AND RELEASE:
GREEN-RAINBOW PARTY ENVIRONMENTAL ACTIVIST TO STAND TRIAL ON OCTOBER 14th.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 12, 2015
Danny Factor, Green-Rainbow Party Secretary, and environmental activist
Plinio DeGoes, Green-Rainbow Party Candidate for Cambridge City Council
Ellen Mass, President, Friends of The Alewife Reservation
What: Factor will stand trial at the Cambridge District Court in Medford on Wednesday, Oct 14th for his act of civil disobedience in defense of Silver Maple Forest.
Where: Cambridge District Court, 4040 Mystic Valley Parkway, Medford.
When: Wednesday, October 14th
8:00 A.M. Mr. Factor, Mr. Degoes and Ms. Mass 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 ended.
Communications Director, Green-Rainbow Party of Massachusetts
Phone: (508) 335-6064
MEDFORD, MA -
In what Green-Rainbow Party activist Danny Factor describes as an “important moment to defend the crucial role that forests play”, Factor will stand trial in front of a jury of his peers at the Cambridge District Court in Medford on Wednesday, Oct 14th 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. The forest is 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 State. 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, 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, “Friends of the Alewife Reservation’s (FAR) published inventories showing that the forest was home to a vast quantity of flora and fauna—some rare-- including deer, coyote, fox, mink, river otter, 90 species of birds, and floodplain 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, producing cooling oxygen for our communities, helping to mitigate the effects of climate change.The forest has been a last connection to our farming and Native American history as shown on the FAR website and noted by the Belmont Historical Society."
"The destruction of this forest is a tragedy," Mass further stated. "Silver Maple Forest is already part of a highly impaired 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 for the present contaminated water ways that will pass nearly 5000 new units creating a health safety risk for those living near the Mystic River watershed in Cambridge, Belmont, Arlington, Somerville, and Medford. More trees have been slated to come down by Belmont Power and Light at the rare Blair Pond and meadow off of Brighton St. bordering Cambridge with Belmont. 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 and spreading the word of public need to preserve our forests and wetland floodplain areas,” Mass stated.
Last June, the presiding judge in the case, 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.
Factor had planned to have ecologist David Morimoto testify to the fact that deforestation is destroying the planet, 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 shortages in the food supply, and causes destruction of forest microbial communities, which in turn ends the production of clean water and the removal of pollutants. "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."
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."
Plinio Degoes is a Cambridge resident and Green-Rainbow Party candidate for city council. Degoes is calling for the City of Cambridge to rethink its priorities when it comes to environmental policy. "Danny Factor's act of civil disobedience is important because it illuminates the reasons why we must seriously consider the consequences before cutting down forests. Climate change, destroying biodiversity, increasing flooding risks must all be considered, " DeGoes stated. "This is a common issue among many communities near Boston that should be addressed in a democratic manner, not forced upon residents by a corporation." Degoes continued by saying that, "we just gave birth to our first child and I was hoping to have him grow up and raise his family in Cambridge, but that flooding could put our home and the homes of many other residents in danger."
The concern about increased flooding in the neighborhoods surrounding Silver Maple Forest is due to the fact that 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 retain 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." Factor stated.
Factor, an attorney, will represent himself at the proceedings, 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, Mandela, says 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."
Due to Factor and other Green-Rainbow Party candidates' runs for state office last year-- where all the statewide candidates received more than 75,000 votes each-- the Green-Rainbow Party re-gained the official ballot status that they last held in 2011. The party plans to run candidates for local offices, the State House and President of the United States in 2016. They are expected to support boldly combating climate change and ending economic and racial inequality. The Green-Rainbow Party is the Massachusetts affiliate of the Green Party of The United States.
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