It was quiet in front of the Hilton Hotel in Burlington Monday evening; the site for an annual summit of Eastern leaders from the U.S. and Canada.
Sunday, more than 400 protesters gathered to demonstrate. Late in the afternoon, that turned to violence as they tried to block the exit of event-goers. Police fired pepper balls after multiple warnings after protesters engaged them physically.
Monday, Gov. Peter Shumlin said the incident lacked the peaceful respect traditionally found at Vermont protests.
"I think Burlington Police did a great job of dealing with that, but all they wanted to do was ensure that no one's freedom was obstructed-- to move and get where they needed to go," said Shumlin, D-Vermont.
The protesters demonstrated against the possible repurposing of an oil pipeline to carry more corrosive tar sands oil from Canada to Maine. Shumlin has repeatedly stated that won't happen, but those at the conference didn't reach consensus on the matter.
"We didn't bring up the issue of tar sands because I think there's a diversity of opinions among the premiers and the governors on exactly the best approach," Shumlin said.
But those at the meeting did find agreement on a range of environmental and transportation challenges. Leaders promised some solutions will become reality soon. Shumlin says plug-in stations for electric cars along the corridor running between Burlington and Montreal could be just a few months down the road, and higher speed rail is on track for 2013.
"And you will see the Montreal connection not long after that," Shumlin said.
Next year's conference will be held in Quebec City. By then, some of the plans will have had time to materialize.
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