Turners Falls climate activist makes waves chained to boat outside governor’s home

  • Nora Maynard of Turners Falls was one of the climate activists arrested at the Sept. 28 protest. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

  • Massachusetts State Troopers stand near a pink sailboat with the words “climate emergency” on the hull on Sept. 28 on a street outside Gov. Charlie Baker’s house in Swampscott. A half-dozen environmental activists who chained themselves to the boat were arrested. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/JENNIFER DAVIS VIA AP

  • Nora Maynard, of Turners Falls, is one of the climate activists arrested for a protest outside of Gov. Charlie Baker’s Swampscott residence on Sept. 28. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 10/8/2021 10:21:30 AM

TURNERS FALLS — Like a true captain, climate activist Nora Maynard went down with her ship as she was arrested for her protest outside of Gov. Charlie Baker’s Swampscott residence on Sept. 28.

In collaboration with Extinction Rebellion, an international climate activism organization, Maynard was taken into custody alongside seven other protesters on charges of disorderly conduct and trespassing.

According to a statement from Massachusetts State Police, Maynard and her peers “blocked a public roadway … obstructing traffic” as they chained themselves to a large pink boat in front of Baker’s residence. Maynard, who refuted these claims, expressed no regret, saying she plans to continue innovating emphatic ways to advocate for climate reform.

Maynard said Extinction Rebellion’s goal was to demand attention and combat what they contend has been an apathetic, sluggish response to climate change from the Baker administration. She also said opinions from her and her peers hadn’t been heeded enough at previous public hearings.

“I think that the goal here was to put Gov. Baker under a form of citizen’s arrest because we feel like our voices haven’t been heard in the past,” Maynard said.

Maynard particularly criticized Baker’s “An Act Creating a Next Generation Roadmap for Massachusetts Climate Policy” that would have Massachusetts cut greenhouse gas emissions to “net zero” by 2050.

“We feel that that is way too late and that it will doom us, essentially,” Maynard said.

Maynard said Extinction Rebellion’s protest vessel, a hot pink boat labeled “CLIMATE EMERGENCY” on the port side, represented an omen of what might come as a result of Baker’s lack of action.

“There is something symbolic about a boat,” said Maynard, who chained herself to the trailer by the boat’s bow. “That area of Swampscott will be under water when sea levels rise.”

She added that the sheer “absurdity” of the visual was impactful in itself.

“In general, some of the most important and subversive ideas that we’ve come up with have come from jesters,” Maynard said. “I feel like it’s very powerful to have a little bit of silliness to go with an important message.”

Police, however, didn’t take the protest lightly. They tried to disperse the activists due to their alleged obstruction of traffic, a claim Maynard disputed, saying they had only been taking up space in the parking lane. After Maynard and other protesters refused to disperse, troopers cut the chains binding seven people to the boat and its underlying trailer to take them into custody.

“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 police tried to shame and downplay their method of protest.

“At one point, police tried to guilt us that we had traumatized schoolchildren with our statement,” she said. “In the end, it was the police who brought power tools and guns.”

Maynard said that before being released later that afternoon, police treated her well in custody but repeatedly tried to coax more information out of her. She said they were particularly interested in details surrounding the boat, which she said she had few answers for.

“They did try to keep getting more information out of us all the time,” she said.

In addition to attending protests with various groups, Maynard is a musician and the director and founder of WholeTone Music Academy, a music school she took with her when she moved from Somerville to Turners Falls. She said she has run a “protest choir class” twice in the past and would use music as a medium at Extinction Rebellion protests by leading songs and chants.

Going forward, Maynard hopes to continue her activism with strategies that not only promote a “regenerative culture,” but turns heads.

“We have gotten people’s attention,” she said. “If a few people start asking more questions, then we were successful.”

Reach Julian Mendoza at 413-772-0261, ext. 261 or jmendoza@recorder.com.


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