Ben Cohen, co-founder of the far left, politically charged Ben & Jerry’s ice cream company, among others, were arrested for a demonstration featuring a simulation of the jet noise that will be generated by the aircrafts from the Air Force’s plans to base 18 F-35 aircrafts in Burlington starting next year.
CommonDreams The activists, including Ben Cohen—whose ice cream company is based in Burlington—were arrested for disorderly conduct and violating city noise ordinances by playing “jet noise from a tower of speakers mounted on the back of a pickup truck at a level they said simulated what it would be like to be underneath the flight path,” the Burlington Free Press reported.
Cohen’s sound machine played 115 decibels of jet blast noise for six minutes (no way is an F-35 directly overhead for 6 minutes)—the same amount of time that residents would be exposed to the F-35’s jet blast if the planes are sent to the Vermont Air National Guard Station at the city’s airport, according to a statement from the group Save Our Skies Vermont, which opposes the basing plans.
“If it’s legal for the F-35 to make this noise 16 times per day, 4-6 days per week, 52 weeks a year, for the next 50 years, it should be legal for us to do this limited demonstration of extreme jet blasts which are the subject of Item #6 on the March ballot,” he added, referring to the ballot item that would instruct city officials to request that the Air Force cancel the basing plans.
The demonstration, which began around 11am, was intended to simulate the sound of the F-35 jet blast, said Lieutenant Matthew Sullivan of Burlington police.
Sullivan explained that amplifiers were attached to a rig and led by a vehicle Cohen was driving. He was cited numerous times before his arrest for violating the city’s noise ordinance. ‘Because it was the third violation it’s disorderly conduct by noise so they were arrested,’ Lt. Sullivan said. ‘Three protesters were arrested.’
Supporters of the demonstration said arresting protesters for violating the ordinance proved their point about the jet fighters.
The referendum was “prompted by a petition drive this winter,” and “asks voters whether Burlington’s City Council should formally request the U.S. Air Force send a safer, less noisy aircraft to Vermont to replace the aging F-16 jets,” a local affiliate of NBC News reported last week. Unless the residents of Burlington vote “no” on Item #6—and the Air Force complies with the city’s subsequent request—18 F-35 jets will be sent to the base in September 2019.
“The F-35 basing is a moral issue,” said Richard Joseph, who also participated in the protest Saturday. “It is shocking that the Burlington City Council and Mayor have failed to address it.