Beckley, WV — The final four of seventeen people who were arrested this Memorial Day weekend after three separate acts of non violent civil disobedience on Massey Energy and Patriot Coal mine sites in southern West Virginia were released at 1:08pm today from the Raleigh County Southern Regional Jail.
Media Contact: Charles Suggs
BECKLEY, W.Va.—Seventeen mountaintop removal activists had no choice but to enforce the laws since all administrative remedies have been exhausted, said some of the activists and supporters at a press conference today. The four still-jailed activists were released on their own recognizance by Judge Burnside shortly after the press conference, which was held on the Raleigh County Courthouse steps.
“I’ve lived in West Virginia most of my life. I’m sick and tired of big business and the corrupt government telling us what to do,” began Sid Moye of Mercer County, who participated in the Picket at Pettus. “They come in and they can take our land, they can ruin our water and they can take our resources. It’s not right and somebody has to do something about it so we do the little things that we can.”
Eric Blevins, also arrested in the Pettus action, said, “I asked the officer arresting me if Massey is going to be allowed to blast near the dam and he didn’t want to talk about it. I asked him, doesn’t he have a responsibility to enforce the law, and he said ‘Not those laws.’”
“We locked down on the Kayford mountaintop removal site with mud from Mingo County on our boots,” Ashlee Henderson said in a statement from the Kayford 8, “After we were arrested we had the dust remains from Kayford Mountain added to that mud.”
“Just because a mining permit is applied for,” Debbie Jarrell of Rock Creek, Raleigh County asked the crowd, “Is there a law that states that it has to be granted? If there’s a cleaner way to develop energy, such as the Coal River Wind Project, should we not take advantage of it?”
Mat Louis-Rosenberg pointed out the absurdity of the littering charges for the two individuals on the Brushy Fork Dam and the $2,000 bail for each of the protesters. He contrasted the bail rate with the $1,800 fine Massey paid in 1999, when 14.5 miles of the Coal River were blackened with slurry and the $15,000 A & G Coal paid for the death of three year old Jeremy Davidson outside of Appalachia, Virginia in 2004.
“It was extremely unjust that the magistrate illegally posted such a high bail, when our maximum fine was only one hundred dollars,” said Laura Steepleton of the Pettus 7, who was released this afternoon. “He justified his statement by telling us that we had no ties to the area. As a human being and a citizen of this country I do not only have a tie to this area, but a responsibility to ensure security for these mountains and the safety for the people of this beautiful community. “
There is a video of the press conference available at www.mountainjustice.org.