Archive for August, 2012

Ducky Takes Plea deal – 5 Days in Jail

Thursday, August 30th, 2012
posted by admin

update 9/3: Ducky is out of jail! He celebrated his release with Mexican food and enough giggles to send some up his nasal passages. More on his jail experience soon.

UPDATE 9/1: Ducky has called us for the first time from South Central Regional. He sounded chipper and explained that he hasn’t been able to contact us because he wasn’t given a bracelet with his ID Number, which he needs in order to use the jail phone.  He will be released on Monday.

UPDATE 8/31: This morning two other barge activists agreed to a plea deal of suspended sentences and probation, while other 2 people who boarded the barge with ducky still have open court cases: Rebecca Loeb’s court date has been continued and Squirrel pleaded not guilty.

Today at his status hearing in Kanawha county, Ducky (Nathan Joseph) agreed to a plea deal and was taken directly to south central regional jail to serve 5 days.   He plead guilty to obstruction, and was sentenced to 5 days in jail and $100 fine plus court costs.

Ducky was one of Five people who on May 24th boarded a coal barge at the Quincy Docks operated by Kanawha River Terminals in Chelyan, W.Va. and locked themselves to the boat with a banner stating “Coal Leaves Cancer Stays”.   Before he took action, ducky had this to say … “If “business as usual” does not stop SOON, there will not be an Appalachia left for our children or our children’s children.”

Ducky had this to say before going to court for his actions – “I’ve found constant comfort in the knowledge that I took part in this action for good reason. Everywhere I look I see problems with the coal industry. Whether it’s the overt destruction of a natural landmark that should be revered or the blatant disregard for the health and safety of industry employees and community members, I see one clear message: the coal machine is one that MUST be stopped.”

You can write to Nathan Walker Joseph, 1001 Centre Way, Charleston, WV, 25309-1001

To guarantee that the person you’re writing to will receive your letters:  Address your letter to the inmate’s full legal name. You must include a full name in the return address as well or your mail will not be allowed in.use standard sized envelopes and paper, use only a pencil or pen with blue/black ink (typed or colored ink may cause your letter to be confiscated), don’t include cards, photocopies, clippings, or other materials besides black and white written correspondence. Photos are okay. Please assume all mail will be read by the jail. Remember that the person you are writing may not have paper or stamps to write back, so don’t get discouraged if you don’t receive a reply.

On the MJS Action

Tuesday, August 28th, 2012
posted by fern

Hey everybody,

It’s been an action-packed summer, coast-to-coast, nobody can deny that! From a RAMPS action that shut down a coal export facility and stopped 9 haul trucks on Kayford Mountain back in May, to the first successful blockades of a hydraulic fracturing site in Pennsylvania and a facility in New York, to the Mountain Mobilization that shut down the Hobet 45 mine (largest MTR site in America!!!) for a day, to an awe-inspiring week of actions against coal exports in Montana, to the numerous actions that are popping up in Texas and Oklahoma against the Keystone XL pipeline, nobody can say that the environmental movement hasn’t been busy! And you better believe that we’re not through yet!

It’s been an honor and a privilege to work with RAMPS throughout this summer, beginning with that first action coming out of Mountain Justice Summer Camp back in May. While many of the actions I just mentioned have already seen legal outcomes, those of us who were arrested on the coal barge in Chelyan, WV are just now facing our status hearing this week. To say that I’m not worried would be a lie. However, I’ve found constant comfort in the knowledge that I took part in this action for good reason. Everywhere I look I see problems with the coal industry. Whether it’s the overt destruction of a natural landmark that should be revered or the blatant disregard for the health and safety of industry employees and community members, I see one clear message: the coal machine is one that MUST be stopped.

In May (which seems so long ago at this point), I decided to take part in this action against coal exports because I knew that I needed to take a stand against the valuation of wealth over health. I decided to lock myself to a coal barge because I know that the coal being taken from West Virginian mountains often doesn’t get used in West Virginia. The coal being loaded into the barges that we occupied gets shipped down the Kanawha River, onto the Ohio and the Mississippi, and beyond. Louisiana, where I call my home, uses MTR coal in their state energy portfolio, and West Virginia, where I’ve developed strong roots this summer, does not see the benefits from their toils. Instead, they get cancer.

Yet industry has government in their pocket. We saw this fully during the Mobilization, when law enforcement forced peaceful protestors to walk 4 hours through a gauntlet of harassment from Friends of Coal and other pro-coal fanatics, and when another protestor was beaten while in police custody and then denied medical care. We’ve seen it over and over again as EPA standards are repealed and mining permits are pushed through regardless of safety regulations. We see it every time Big Coal makes a political donation, every time state and national legislators urge for more mining in the national energy program.

I know that I face a massive system of oppression and repression in the coming days, a system that works to preserve the status quo and ensure that money and power stay right where they are. However, I take solace in the fact that my actions were true, right, and just. Whatever “judgement” may be handed down to me will not stop me from playing my part in this struggle. I know that many who have come before me have been dealt harsher punishments than whatever I may receive, and certainly there will be more such situations in the years to come. I know that I am but one person, but I hope that my actions stand as a clarion call for others to join the struggle.

Those of us who were arrested during the barge action in Chelyan have our court dates on Thursday 8/30/12 and Friday 8/31/12. All five of us are facing misdemeanor trespassing charges, and three (Fern, Rebecca, and myself) are also facing misdemeanor obstruction charges. Speaking for myself, I would love to have people come out and show support for us physically on the day of our appearances.

For the mountains, for the people.
Ducky

Shaleshock shuts down Shumberger fracking site 5.5 hrs

Sunday, August 12th, 2012
posted by admin

The National Uprising Against Extraction continues!  Our friends at Shaleshock posted this update to http://dontfrackwithus.org:

At around 11am, over 150 people arrived to block the main truck entrance in and out to the Schumberger Facility. 20 of this 150 came prepared to use their bodies to blockade the facility until they were removed by police.  Faced with such large numbers and organized resistance, Schumberger did not have their normal daytime shift. People stayed until 4:30 PM, stopping the daytime operation of this 24/7 hour facility and then left of their own accord, deciding that the action was a success. The Shaleshock Direct Action Working Group remains committed to using direct action to confront the presence of a gas industry that is intent on poisoning the land, air and water of our communities. As more people in this movement become interested in peaceful resistance, we intend to continue our work organizing and educating.

Our Eco-Chaplain’s take on the Mountain Mobilization

Saturday, August 4th, 2012
posted by admin

Our friend Sarah Vekasi with the Eco-Chaplaincy Initiative filed the following report after returning home from the Mountain Mobilization:

 

Dearest friends,

I have just returned home from providing support at the Mountain Mobilization organized by the R.A.M.P.S. Campaign at the request and guidance of locals in West Virginia. If you do not know what I am talking about, hold on to your hats, because it is a story our whole country needs to know about, and one that deserves our attention immediately since there are a lot of people currently in jail who need support, organizers who need sleep, activists in need of trauma relief, communities in need of reconciliation and safety, and a powerful story about continual resistance and courageous people to be lifted up.

People with signs at Kanawah State Forest, Mountain Mobilization

Rally at Kanawha State Forest during the Mountain Mobilization.

This past Saturday, over a hundred activists were able to walk on to an active mine site at the Hobet Mine, the largest mountaintop removal site in West Virginia, and shut down mining at its source, while simultaneously holding a rally and trainings at a nearby park. Some activists physically locked down to the mining equipment until arrested and brought to jail, while everyone brought forward a message that it is time to end mountaintop removal coal mining and work for a just and sustainable Appalachia now. The demonstration was the first in a “Summer of Solidarity Against Extraction,” so along with RAMPS, Mountain Justice and Appalachian activists, we had people fighting to protect their homes from Fracking, from the Keystone XL Pipeline, from the Coal Export trains in the northwest, and from Occupy Wall Street and Occupy D.C. The reality of blowing up mountaintops to get to the coal underneath, filling in valleys with the overburden, hence polluting the water supply of all nearby communities and permanently destroying the mountains is so outrageous, so horrifying, that this invitation went out to the world to come to West Virginia at the invitation of local communities to directly witness the atrocity of surface mining, and shut down a mine site with our bodies.

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BREAKING UPDATE: Remaining 10 Activists Take Deal; Released

Thursday, August 2nd, 2012
posted by mlr
Free at least free at least

Twelve of the Hobet 20. Finally all out of jail.

UPDATE 8/7/12:  The remaining 10 arrestees were offered the same plea deal in Lincoln County Court this morning.  All have accepted the deal.  All arrestees have now been released at of 2:30 pm.  Thanks for all of your steadfast support.  More soon.

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Anti-coal activists in India send solidarity letter to RAMPS

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012
posted by admin

Sierra Club has posted two solidarity letters from our fellow activists in India, titled “The Bars of Dirty Coal That Hold You Will Be Broken Soon,  Dustin” and “Solidarity With Dustin.”

An excerpt from the first one:

The retaining bars that hold Dustin – and other such crusaders against the oppression of the dirtiest energy,  are not only in the Police station, the bars of that oppressive jail that hold all of us  are created by the reign of the dirty Coal industry, and are co-sponsored by all the rougue political action that still support coal. As long  as we accept  coal as a major source of energy — even after it became clear that coal is the primary assault on the planet’s climate, its clean air and water, the jail will be there for all of us.

An excerpt from the second one:

While I am very sad to know that many activists have been arrested, injured and badly treated in this noble movement against MTR, I am also very proud of them; especially the young Dustin. We all wish his 21st birthday was celebrated in a happier environment.

I am also very sad and surprised that police act in USA could be so inhumane to severely injure an young man for such non-violent protests.

You can find all of them at http://sierraclub.typepad.com/compass/2012/08/solidarity-from-india.html

BREAKING NEWS: Dustin Steele Released on Bond. 19 Others Remain Behind Bars

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012
posted by mlr

Fantastic news here in West Virginia!

Dustin Steele has been released on bond just moments ago from the Western Regional Jail.  The courts relented after our lawyers went in yesterday and we are able to use a bail bondsman to pay the Magistrate Court.  Dustin is in good spirits, with friends, finally celebrating their 21st birthday.

This is an incredible victory for all of us and we want to sincerely thank every single person that has provided support and encouragement.  That has really been huge here for all of us weary folks here.  However, our battle is far from over.

The 19 other brave individuals remain incarcerated and the bail remains an excessive, possibly unconstitutional, $25,000.  Even if the courts allow us to use bail bondsman for all of the arrestees, it would cost $50,000, which we would never get back, to release all prisoners.  Your continued support is critical in the coming days.

Our people on the inside are mostly doing ok.  All the female-bodied folks are together in a pod and all but one of the male-bodied folks.  We have heard no reports of harassment by other inmates or corrections officers.  Folks on the inside even managed to get the jail to serve vegan meals on request yesterday, something that has never happened before in a West Virginia jail with our campaign.  We continue to work diligently for their release.  Please continue to write them letters.  It does wonders for the spirit there.  [Follow the guidelines strictly.  They are using any excuse to reject letters.]

The broader struggle also continues.  Yesterday brought us terrible news.  A federal judge has struck down the EPA’s water quality guidance that was helping to stop new valley fills from being approved.  This marks the third time now federal judges have blocked the Obama administration’s limited efforts to crack down on mountaintop removal.   The EPA can and should appeal this decision as they appealed the overturn of the Spruce #1 Mine veto, but this really shows what we are up against.  It also shows how important actions like the one last Saturday are.  We need to continue to escalate our resistance in the face of unrelenting state opposition.

Stay tuned. Stay strong.  Keep fighting.

This isn’t over.