This past Monday in Falmouth District Court John Pimental, the snowplow driver who twice hit President’s Day anti-Trump demonstrators on the Falmouth Village Green with slush, pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct and was sentenced to perform 20 hours of community service and write a letter of apology to his victims. A requirement to attend anger management classes was dropped after Mr. Pimental claimed he had no idea a demonstration was taking place and was merely cleaning up the streets around the Village Green.
Readers will no doubt recall that Mr. Pimental lost his contract with the town after the incident because he was in fact supposed to be plowing a road far from the Green at that given hour. And all the witness statements submitted to the Falmouth Police mentioned the fact the he also stopped for several minutes at the head of the Green after his first pass at demonstrators before then making a second pass and soaking another demonstrator.
Rather than disorderly conduct, Mr. Pimental should have been charged with assault with dangerous instrumentality (the snowplow) and battery, because he actually hit a large number of people with snow, ice, water, and what could have been dangerous debris. In contrast, the handling by the criminal justice system of the woman who took offense at a MAGA hat-wearing man in a local restaurant and knocked the hat off, she wasn’t charged with disorderly conduct, but assault and battery. In addition, she was reported to ICE.
More egregious than the assault on demonstrators that occurred was the intentional assault on the rights of assembly and free speech of those of us gathered on the Green. While we hoped that principles of restorative justice might have been applied in his case, Mr. Pimental’s refusal to apologize to date and his denial of his actual motives in dropping his plow that day make that hope moot. Because some of us feel the wrong message has been sent by his reduced charge, we intend to file a civil rights complaint with the state attorney general.
The Falmouth snowplow incident lit up local social media and received widespread national news coverage, with unthinking right-wingers applauding the driver and celebrities like actor James Woods suggesting gift baskets for Mr. Pimental. Just this week, a Florida Broward County GOP functionary approvingly brought up the incident again. In an era when the president of the United States encourages his supporters to commit violence at his rallies and seemingly approves of torch-bearing nationalists chanting “Jews won’t replace us,” acts like Mr. Pimental’s should be treated with serious consequences.
Those of us who stand at the tip of the Green every Saturday at 10 AM are feeling increasingly vulnerable.
Peter L. Waasdorp