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When Roger Pion drove a big tractor over seven cop cars on August 2, he became an instant Internet meme and ended up in jail. Although he made bail of $50,000 weeks ago, he is still being held at the Northern State Correctional Facility in Newport, Vermont, where the tractor-attack took place.
According to Scott Morley, the correctional facility’s chief of security, Pion remains in jail because he has not met court-imposed conditions of release, but he is likely to get out by the end of August. Several release dates have been previously announced, most recently August 30 was predicted, after a court hearing that day.
Roger Pion’s unique gesture of remarkably grand scale vandalism tapped into Americans’ deep and abiding distrust of police, a source of laughter and disdain that’s been a Hollywood movie meme as long as there have been movies. National news media jumped all over the story for the farmer who flattened police cars with gusto, which carried over into international media as well.
Despite immediate police efforts to turn public opinion against Pion, he soon became something of an Internet sensation and hero, with dozens of Roger Pion memes like “tractor-pocalypse” or Roger as Revolutionary War soldier. Facebook pages like “Roger Pion the Magnificent” appeared in his support. YouTube clips of family and friends proliferated, as did pictures of the wreckage of five Orleans County crushed cruisers, one unmarked car, and a van.
Locally, the police were subject to widespread public ridicule. At the Orleans county fair recently one woman was laughing so hard at police, according to Pion’s sister, that the police detained her for a blood alcohol test. But the woman was sober, she blew 0.0, and went on laughing.
Reports of police harassment of the Pion family and supporters continue to appear online. One of the officers accused of ongoing harassment is the same officer who arrested Pion in early July, during an unconventional traffic stop of a car in which Pion was in the back seat.
Anonymous police sources put out the narrative after the tractor cruiser-crushing, that Pion had been mad about that arrest for possession of marijuana and resisting arrest, and took his revenge by tractor. During that July arrest, police threw Pion to the ground, injuring him sufficiently that he was unresponsive and they called an ambulance. He was taken to a local hospital with a concussion.
Although the Internet fervor has quieted down, Pion’s local support seems to remain strong. A demonstration in his support is planned for the day of his release from jail.
A larger, more dramatic action, featuring the “Mighty Tractor of Justice,” is planned for September 29 at an as yet undisclosed location in Orleans County. Billed as “ROGER’S REVOLUTION! COME ONE COME ALL! Lets make a stand against the police state!” this event is planned as a benefit for Pion and as a rally of like minds.