F-35 opponents again protest at Leahy's office

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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) People against the basing of the F-35 jets in Burlington went to Senator Patrick Leahy’s office on Tuesday for the second time this week.

Seven people gathered outside of his office building at 4:30 p.m. and walked together upstairs to the senator’s office to confront him for supporting the F-35s.

When the group got there, they were met by Leahy’s staff member, John Tracy. The protesters gave him a list of their concerns and asked him to send it Leahy and have him to sign it. Tracy told them the senator will not be signing it and that he believes the Vermont National Air Guard has been and will continue to be good neighbors.

One protester, who is in a wheelchair and has spina bifida, told Tracy she’s worried about her health.

"I can’t just pick up and move somewhere," said Kara Paige. “I’ve lived in that home for 47 years."

Tuesday’s protest wasn’t just about the opposition of the F-35s. Protesters also expressed frustration with Leahy, saying he has been unresponsive to them since he took office. They were upset when they arrived at his office and the door was locked. Rosanne Greco, a retired U.S. Air Force colonel who was arrested on Monday after showing up at Leahy’s office, called it an example of him ignoring them.

“We’ve done probably eight or nine different events where we’ve invited the senator to come and hear our concerns,” she said. “Never once in eight years has he ever done that. I matter diddly-squat to him. I don’t think they matter to him. I don’t think his constituents matter to him.”

Tracy sent WCAX News a statement on behalf of Senator Leahy. He reiterated Leahy’s support for the F-35s. He said, “There is no nuclear mission for the F-35s that will be stationed in Vermont. There are no facilities in Vermont to store nuclear weapons, and Senator Leahy would not support any such mission.”

Leahy was in Washington, D.C., and wasn’t at his Burlington office when the protesters arrived.