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    Sunday, July 21, 2024

    Port authority critic hit with felony charge for vandalism in New London

    Several directional signs on State Pier Road in New London, leading to State Pier, are covered Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2020, with pink paint. (Greg Smith/The Day)
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    Kevin Blacker’s one-man crusade against the Connecticut Port Authority and fight against the transformation of State Pier into an offshore wind hub has led to a felony criminal charge.

    State police charged the Noank man Tuesday with first-degree criminal mischief for using pink paint to cover several roadside directional signs on State Pier Road in New London.

    Blacker called the move an act of civil disobedience to draw attention to “something I believe is really not right and something that is going to have a real negative impact on the region ... and on the state.”

    The state has partnered with joint venture partners Ørsted and Eversource on a $157 million redevelopment of the New London port. Construction is slated to begin soon.

    The pink on the signs was a reference to the famous pink home of Susette Kelo, whose attempt to fight the taking of her home by eminent domain at Fort Trumbull led to the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case Kelo v. City of New London.

    It’s not the first time Blacker has gotten into legal trouble for his cause. During a port authority meeting in Hartford in February, on the eve of the approval of the redevelopment plan for State Pier, Blacker stood up, disrupted the meeting and refused to leave until he was arrested. At the time, Blacker argued the plans for State Pier had been negotiated in secret and the Port Authority had broken the law. He later was charged with second-degree breach of peace, a misdemeanor.

    The newest charge is a Class D felony and is punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine with a conviction. One of the criteria for the charge of first-degree criminal mischief is damage to property in excess of $1,500. Blacker said police told him the damage was calculated to be $1,600.

    A representative from the Connecticut Port Authority was not immediately available to comment for this report.

    Blacker said police called him to inform him of the active warrant for his arrest and he turned himself in at Troop E in Montville on his lunch break. He was photographed and fingerprinted and expected the arrest following a conversation with state police detectives last month in which he readily admitted to painting the signs.

    “I told them exactly what I did,” Blacker said. “I just cooperated with them fully.”

    Of the felony charge, Blacker said he wasn’t overly surprised, since he had read the law and knew it was possible.

    “I went into it knowing whatever happens, I’m not going to be scared. I also knew either way, whatever happened, I was going to have myself in a position I wanted to be in,” Blacker said.

    He said he had no immediate plans to hire a lawyer and was prepared to face the consequences of his actions, whatever they might be.

     g.smith@theday.com

    Several directional signs on State Pier Road in New London, leading to State Pier, are covered Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2020, with pink paint. (Greg Smith/The Day)
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