The weekend brought clear skies and relief from rain, but that is not what one group of protesters worries about falling from the sky.
On Sunday afternoon, area residents, along with some people from out of state, gathered at Maple Street in Gainesville to bring attention to chemtrails. This was one of several protests in a simultaneous global “Stop Chemtrails” demonstration.
Chemtrails, a product of what the group calls geoengineering, are produced by jet airplanes, usually in a gridlike pattern, according to protesters. Described as an “opaque, white substance,” the group said the chemicals have damaged plants, irritated the skin of livestock, killed trees and even made people sick.
However, no scientific evidence has indicated dangerous chemicals have been released from jets.
Many groups have drawn their concern from the documentary “Why in the World are They Spraying?” The video became popular through the Internet and inspired the protests.
The local demonstration was initiated by Tim Peirce, a Gainesville resident, who says he is simply seeking to educate the community about dangers to the environment from chemicals in jet fuel.
“If you wait a few hours (after the chemtrails fall), it just spreads out like a haze blocking the sun,” Peirce said.
“Everything we need to live comes from the Earth, so why not help it?”
Peirce said he believes the group’s cause is important so all communities should be made aware of it.
“It’s your local community, so you might as well spread the word and try to get as much involvement as you can,” he said.
“I hope to accomplish educating and getting the word out on what’s happening and what’s going on.”
One other protester said she supports the cause because she has seen the damage she believes is caused by planes.
“I saw the chemtrails,” said Helen Heinle, a Dawson County resident. “I am a witness to it, and that has launched me into my activism for this past year.”
On the day of sighting, Heinle said she saw several planes dragging trails of a white substance in a gridlike pattern directly above her home.
“The next day, I was sick as a dog,” she said. “My sinuses and throat were burnt, like, caustically burnt.”
Though the first experience last May was what initially alarmed her, she said the problem’s persistence was what sparked her interest in protesting.
“The planes continued relentlessly spraying over us all spring and summer last year,” she said.
Other participants said they believe chemtrails to be an effort to control or alter the climate.