Derry vandalism case moves to restorative justice center

By Shawn Cunningham and Bruce Frauman
©2017 Telegraph Publishing LLC

The case of Ed Brown, the Londonderry restaurant owner who was to appear before the court in Brattleboro on Tuesday, Nov. 7, to be arraigned on unlawful mischief charges for painting over a mural on Route 11, has been transferred to the alternative Brattleboro Community Justice Center.

Derry Select Board chair Paul Gordon tells the board about the change in status of the Ed Brown case. Photos by Bruce Frauman.

Londonderry Select Board chair Paul Gordon told the Select Board about the change during Monday night’s meeting. On Tuesday, Gordon told The Telegraph that he did not learn of the change until Monday, when he finally got in touch with Windham County State’s Attorney Tracy Kelly Shriver. Gordon had been ready to head down to court in Brattleboro Tuesday morning for Brown’s arraignment. The Telegraph’s calls to Shriver last week were not returned.

In early September, Brown had painted over a mural on the Route 11 retaining wall that had been designed by Flood Brook students. The wall is owned by VTrans, which had given the town the right to paint a mural on it.

At the time, he told The Telegraph, he painted over the flowered wall because “it was peeling and fading and didn’t look nice. ” He added that he felt he “was doing a favor for the community.” Almost a month later he was charged by State Police with unlawful mischief and scheduled for a court hearing on Tuesday morning. That charge can be a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the value of the property damaged. Property damage of less than $250 is punishable by up to six months in jail and/or a fine of no more than $500.

Gordon has said that the town did not want to see Brown dealt with harshly by the courts but would like to see some type of restitution.

In an interview on Tuesday, Shriver said she “declined charges and deferred the case to an alternative program.” Asked why she made that decision, Shriver said that since it is an ongoing case she would not comment on her reasoning.

Segment of the flower wall shortly after it was painted.

According to Jackie Trepanier, program coordinator for the Brattleboro Community Justice Center, Brown would be in a “pre-charge” program for first-time offenders and if all the parties to the matter are satisfied with the outcome of the process, charges will not be filed. The BCJC is a restorative justice organization.

“It’s a voluntary program and people can decline to participate,” said Trepanier. “They may feel the charges are unjust and want to go to court, but the incentive is to not have something on their record.”

“The program,” she added, “is unique and specific to the situation. It’s not a cookie-cutter program.”

Trepanier told The Telegraph that Brown had been referred to the program by Shriver in early November and that she had spoken with him but that it was unclear who the other parties are. She noted that the Londonderry Select Board appeared to be one party and that she understood the property belongs to the State of Vermont.

Trepanier said, “The parties have to be willing to come to the table, but in theory there’s a person who has been identified as having offended. … The program provides a space where people are real and authentic and feel safe to talk about issues that are not black and white.”

Brown could not be reached for comment.

On Monday night, resident Kelly Capen told the board that VTrans employee Marc Pickering indicated to her that any repairs or painting to the wall would likely be up to the town.

 

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  1. Kelly Capen says:

    I also agree, I think it would also be appropriate to show the condition it was in just before it was painted over. I know the Beautification Committee has brought it up many times 7/21/2016, 9/20/2016, 5/9/2017, 8/3/2017 and 9/14/2017 clearly something got stuck somewhere. It has needed reconditioning for a while

  2. Cynthia Prairie says:

    This article gives Ed Brown’s reasoning behind his action in painting over the wall. However, we’re happy to amend the photo cutline to indicate that the picture was taken soon after the wall was originally painted, as we have done in previous stories.

  3. Annie Fujii says:

    I totally agree, Irwin. The wall did not look like it does in photos presented when repainted….

  4. Irwin Kuperberg says:

    It would be more journalistically appropriate if articles on this subject either showed the wall in its most recent deteriorated state OR with a captioned that correctly indicated that it represented it when it was freshly painted but that it had faded and crumbled in recent years.

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