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.”


VIDEO: Journey Up Cook Mountain

When Danny Cook attempted to visit his family cemetery on Cook Mountain in late June, he found the access roads blocked off by five to six steep, man made berms surrounded by four foot trenches and in some cases, water. The Cook Mountain mine site, operated by Horizon Resources LLC, is several hundred feet away and advancing in the direction of the Civil War-era cemetery and the family’s ancestral land. On the dirt road that runs alongside the gravesite, Horizon Resources LLC has drilled holes to measure coal seam depth. The Cooks, many of whom still live in James Creek Hollow down below, do not own mineral rights to Cook Mountain, and are unsure of their surface rights. Horizon, which is jointly owned by Massey Energy and the International Coal Group, is free to blast away the bones of the dead, exposing a thin strip of coal that will be mined and quickly burned.

The following video shows the family visiting the site and talking about Cook Mountain history and the oncoming devastation:

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.