CGZ Activist Sentenced to Maximum Fines in Jury Trial

MADISON, W. Va. – October 15, 2009 – In the second jury trial of the Climate Ground Zero campaign, Mat Louis-Rosenberg appeared before Boone County Magistrate Byrneside to plead a necessity defense on counts of trespassing and conspiracy.

On May 23, Louis-Rosenberg and seven others were arrested after locking themselves down to rock trucks on Kayford Mountain, halting work for four hours. Appearing before a jury, Louis-Rosenberg faced the risk of up to 18 months in jail.

Despite hearing evidence that Louis-Rosenberg was never asked to leave the site, the jury convicted Louis-Rosenberg on both charges and, while not incarcerated, he was sentenced to the maximum penalties of $1,500 plus court costs which brought the total to over $2,700. Six other activists that participated in the lockdown plead no contest and received maximum fines and court costs of $1844. After trial, Louis-Rosenberg returned to Rock Creek to appear on a panel at the Mountain Justice Fall Summit, a weekend of service and education focused around ending the devastation of mountaintop removal.

In a statement before his trial, Louis-Rosenberg explained why he wished to appear before a jury. “This campaign, just like the civil rights movement and many other struggles for change, is founded on a strategy of non-violent civil disobedience. And just like the civil rights movement, it draws its strength and its power from the willingness of ordinary people to take extraordinary risks and sacrifices because of the strength of their beliefs.

“My conscience demands that I stand up in that court room and explain to the people of Boone County why I did what I did. I will not contest the facts of what happened, but rather assert my belief that what I did was right, that I was stopping a far greater crime than I was committing. And if I go to jail because of it, I know that I go as many have gone before me, in defense of my friends, this land and my convictions.”


Slideshow: Final Four Released

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.

Final Four Released - Images by antrim caskey

Media Contact: Charles Suggs
Number: 304-854-7372

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

AP: WVa Hearing Postponed for Massey Protesters

WVa hearing postponed for Massey protesters

By the Associated Press
March 24, 2009

BECKLEY, W.Va. – Environmental activists who chained themselves to heavy equipment on Massey Energy property have agreed to the temporary extension of a restraining order.

Raleigh County Circuit Judge Robert Burnside planned to consider Richmond, Va.-based Massey’s request for a permanent injunction Tuesday, but the hearing was postponed.

Roger Forman, lawyer for the protesters, said there will be a teleconference to set a new date.

Massey wants the protesters barred from interfering with its mountaintop removal mining operations in southern West Virginia.

Several temporary injunctions against trespassing had been set to expire Tuesday.