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.”
Contact: Mike Roselle, 304 854 7372
Climate Ground Zero Gets Day in Court
At 9:30 am, Monday, June 1st, in the Raleigh County Circuit Court of West Virginia, Judge Robert Burnside will hear motions to vacate a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) issued by Richmond, Va.-based coal company Massey Energy in February, 2009, barring members of Climate Ground Zero from taking part in anti-mountaintop removal protests that have been held in Raleigh County, WV since the beginning of the year. So far, the TRO has failed to stop the protests at Massey’s mine sites and over twenty additional protesters have been arrested in six separate actions since the TRO was issued.
“On Monday, we will put Massey Energy on trial for crimes against the State of West Virginia,” said Climate Ground Zero campaign director Mike Roselle, of Rock Creek, WV.
“The scope of their illegal operations, the damage it has done to the mountain communities of Appalachia and the threat it poses to all of the people who live down stream and down wind will be exposed in court. For too long, Massey has been getting away with what amounts to murder. They are killing Appalachia with their blasting and draglines and they are breaking the law. We hope Judge Burnside will hear our arguments that our actions were necessary in order to prevent a far more serious crime.”
Climate Ground Zero is calling for its supporters to attend the two day hearing, and to wear a red railroad bandana to show solidarity with the demonstrators who are named in the Massey lawsuit.