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Hassig charged with trespassing at MMH

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MASSENA - Green Party Congressional candidate Donald L. Hassig, Colton, has been charged with trespassing following an incident Wednesday at Massena Memorial Hospital.

Mr. Hassig had sent out an email advisory earlier in the day, saying he would be at the hospital.

“I am speaking out in a freedom of speech place in the US. Massena Memorial Hospital is owned by the town of Massena. I have the right as an American citizen to speak the truth freely here. I will speak the truth about Alcoa poisoning the St. Lawrence River Valley with PCBs and other industrial chemicals and controlling the US government in an effort to deceive Americans about this poisoning and the cancer that it has caused,” Hassig said in his advisory.

He was charged with the trespassing violation at 10:24 a.m. Wednesday after he refused a request by Massena Memorial Hospital Senior Director of Ancillary Services Mark P. Brouillette to move his protest from inside the hospital’s front lobby to the sidewalk bordering Hospital Drive.

Massena Village Police Chief Timmy J. Currier said he met with Hassig at the hospital. “I explained at great length the issue and tried to get him to comply with the hospital’s request to relocate. But he refused. After exhausting all attempts to get him to comply, we arrested him. He was fully cooperative,” he said.

Hassig was arraigned on the trespassing violation by Acting Massena Village Justice James M. Crandall and released on his own recognizance with stipulations that he not interfere with pedestrian or vehicle traffic, not interfere with the operations and procedures at Massena Memorial Hospital and commit no further offenses.

Mr. Brouillette, in a statement included in the court documents, said he has asked Mr. Hassig to leave the lobby area because he was bothering hospital staff and patients. He said Mr. Hassig refused his request to leave the hospital.

“Don stated that he did not want to smell the car fumes and that he had a right to be in the public hospital, where it was warm,” the hospital official noted in his statement to police.

Mr. Brouillette said he left the area briefly and contacted village police for assistance. “I then went back downstairs and asked Don if we could talk outdoors. Don went outside with me to talk, but when he saw the police pull in he went back inside the main entrance into the lobby,” he said in his statement.

Hassig pleaded not guilty to the charge at his arraignment. He said he was simply standing in the lobby handing out pamphlets to people that would accept them. “I am not guilty. The constitution trumps everything. I was just there in an honorable place. I have to tell people about chemicals causing cancer,” he told the court.

Mr. Crandall suggested Hassig’s message might be more effective if he came across as being “a little less excited.”

But the Congressional candidate countered that approach doesn’t work. “If you are standing on a street corner, they think you are some weirdo. I’m not a weirdo,” he said.

Hassig said this is the fifth time he has been charged in the last year for protesting in a public place, including arrests in Potsdam, Watertown and Parishville. He was recently granted an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal on a trespassing count that had been filed following a similar incident earlier this summer at the Parishville town beach.

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