In Lac-Mégantic, anger, frustration reach boiling point


The Gazette confirme l'incident du « fucking frog »

Pent-up anger and frustration boiled over into a confrontation involving a local resident, a Gazette photographer and an employee of the railway company involved in the tragic derailment in Lac-Mégantic.
Alex Larabée, 22, a physical education student at the Université de Sherbrooke, noticed an employee of the Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway behaving aggressively toward Gazette photographer John Kenney Tuesday.
Kenney was taking photographs of some oil tanker cars parked on the track in the village of Nantes when the employee approached him and screamed at him menacingly.
“The gentleman was just an inch away from John and was yelling at him, trying to intimidate him,” Larabée said.
Then the employee, who described himself as an investigator from Illinois but did not give his name, called police and complained that Larabée had threatened him. Larabée says the employee pushed him in the chest.
Larabée, who lives on the border between Lac-Mégantic and the neighbouring village of Nantes, went to the scene because he was concerned about whether the tanker cars posed a safety hazard.
“I went to see if the cars were losing oil,” Larabée said.
The cars had been part of the train involved in Saturday’s derailment but had been decoupled from the rest of the train Friday night and remained parked on the track in Nantes, he said.
“I saw there was a gentleman there. I asked him if they were leaking. I asked in French and he started swearing at me in English, calling me a f---ing frog and all that,” Larabée said.
Larabée said The Gazette’s Kenney told the man to calm down, adding that all he needed to do was ask them politely to leave rather than become aggressive.
Larabée said the confrontation left him with an even more negative view of the railroad company than before.
“We’ve been living with this in our community for half a week, and then this employee screams at me and insults me,” Larabée said.
“I said, ‘Our community has been completely destroyed through your fault, and on top of that you are trying to intimidate us by being aggressive,’ ” he said. “It really shows their flagrant lack of respect for us (residents).”
Larabée, who works for the city of Sherbrooke in addition to his studies, said he and his girlfriend have been unable to concentrate or do their normal jobs since the catastrophe.
He said his girlfriend, a special educator who works at a centre for the disabled, went to work Monday but had a panic attack after one of the patients set off a fire alarm.
“It completely traumatized her,” he said. Neither he nor his girlfriend has felt able to work since then, he said.
“I want to completely denounce the attitude of the company. I don’t have words to describe how mean they have been,” Larabée said.
“They just think about their money and they don’t even want to know what we are living through and how devastated our community is,” he said. “For us, the planet completely stopped turning on Saturday.”
A spokesperson for MMA could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

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