AUBURN — A Porter man arrested in August for criminal trespassing on railroad tracks here last summer testified in a packed courtroom Thursday that he took that action to save the lives of city residents.

Douglas Bowen Jr. was one of two defendants scheduled for a hearing in Androscoggin County Superior Court.

Earlier, roughly 70 supporters rallied outside Androscoggin County Superior Courthouse building to show support for the two oil train protesters making a court appearance.

Jessie Dowling and Bowen were arrested in August while blocking the railroad tracks near Denny’s on Court Street.

At their court appearance Thursday, they sought to show why their actions were aimed at preventing a greater harm.

Thursday’s rally was organized by 35o Maine. The defendants hoped to show they were trespassing  “in order to prevent a larger disaster from occurring,” according to a statement issued by 350 Maine.

The August protest was organized by 350 Maine and Maine Earth First!, the environmental groups that blockaded an oil train in Fairfield in June. The groups are calling for a moratorium on the transport of the same oil product being transported when a train crashed and exploded in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, last month and killed close to 50 people. Meaghan LaSala also was arrested in that protest.

This story has been updated.

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