Former Maine Green activist Will Neils takes a more radical path

An interesting article from

Neils has been making a name for himself all over Maine for going on two decades now. An early member (and eventual co-chair) of the nascent Green Party in the mid-90s, he soon tired of the glacial pace of conventional politics, turning instead to direct activism via Earth First!, which proved a much better match. He’s remained on what he calls “the radical side of things” since 1997, aligning himself with causes ranging from forest protection to unfair trade practices, from national security to local control and development.

One of the highlights of Neil’s singular journey through the outlands of Maine politics came in October 2009, when he and several of his allies — “my girls and boys,” he calls them — staged a peaceful but disruptive protest at a public hearing in Bangor on the proposed Plum Creek development. A video of the incident appears to show Neils standing quietly in the background while protestors attempt a sit-down at the center of the hall. Suddenly, he’s being forcefully ejected by a trio of security guys. The camera follows as Neils, one arm pinned against his back, is pressed against a wall, handcuffed, and led down a hallway. He doesn’t go quietly. “I am a citizen of the state of Maine!” he shouts. “I came here to speak!”

It’s funny how stuff comes back around. Not many months afterward — I heard this story from one of the legislators involved — Neils was at the State House in Augusta, doing God knows what, when his presence in the visitors gallery was noticed by a couple of younger representatives. Feverishly they drafted a hand-written script to be read out by Hannah Pingree, then Speaker of the House, recognizing the presence of “the honorable Christopher William Neils, a citizen of the state of Maine.”

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