Brown pleads not guilty to charges in wall painting

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In this photo taken after the student mural was completed, students line up with art teacher Casey Bailey, to the left, in pale green hat, artist Garrison Buxton, waving in green T-shirt, and Sharon Crossman, far right.
Photos by Bruce Frauman

Londonderry restaurant owner Ed Brown pleaded not guilty to a charge of unlawful mischief in Windham County Superior Court, Criminal Division this afternoon, according to a court employee.

The charges stem from Brown painting over a student-designed mural on a state-owned concrete wall across from his restaurant’s parking lot on Rt. 11 just west of Rt. 100 in early September of last year.

Londonderry Town Administrator Robert Nied told the Select Board on Feb. 5 that the outcome of Ed Brown’s case is “in the hands of Mr. Brown at this point.” Brown had not responded to repeated requests to negotiate a resolution about his restitution for painting over the mural, even after a 30-day extension requested by the board .

With the Brattleboro Justice Center acting as an intermediary, the Select Board asked Brown to pay $3,000 into a mural fund, but Brown offered to pay $500 directly to Flood Brook School. The students who designed the mural were from Flood Brook.

Nied said Brown’s case was returned to the State Attorney’s office by the Justice Center when Brown failed to respond. Nied said that he was told by the state’s attorney office that Brown could be put into a diversion program, but if Brown does not cooperate, he will be prosecuted.

“This has been an ongoing situation for some time and the town has two perspectives. While we want to maintain the rule of law, we have no desire to be punitive or disproportionate,”  Neid said on Tuesday. “We worked with the Brattleboro Justice Center looking for an equitable result, but Mr. Brown chose not to work with them. We also reached out to Mr. Brown but he did not respond. In the end, the choices were Mr. Brown’s. We can’t have people going around defacing public property without ramifications.”

The mural was painted by local artist Garrison Buxton student designs. On Sept. 11 Brown  covered over the peeling paint with concrete stain. In an interview with The Telegraph a few days later, Brown said that he did it as “a favor to the community.”

The court clerk employee said that Brown’s next appearance will be in mid-May

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