Archive for June, 2014

8 in Jail After Alpha Headquarters Blockade and Banner Hang

Monday, June 23rd, 2014
posted by fern

All of our friends arrested in the Alpha headquarters action were arraigned in front of a judge this morning after spending the weekend in Jail. While none of them can be released from jail until their bail is set, only some of them will get bail hearings this afternoon. If enough donations are made to the legal defense fund, we may be able to get some of them out of jail today or tomorrow!  While it’s looking like half or more of our friends won’t be able to get a hearing today, we hope to raise money in the interim so that we’re able to make bail as soon as it is set.

2014-06-20 06.24.34Over the past decade, the Mountain Justice Legal Defense Fund has made it possible for countless people to risk arrest in actions and for our movement to bail those arrested out when they needed it. Donations to the legal defense fund are usually used not just once, but again and again as court cases are resolved and those funds return. In other words, one donation can help action after action over the years. Right now, our fund is critically low because many activists are still out on bail for other Mountain Justice actions that have happened this year.

If you can, please donate to the legal fund to make it possible to bail out the 8 people in jail now and to support our ongoing work.

Our friends who were arrested near Alpha’s headquarters thought a lot about the issue before taking action. Here are the statements that they made about why they are organizing against Alpha Natural Resources:

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No Business as Usual at Alpha Headquarters

Friday, June 20th, 2014
posted by admin

Activists Blockade Alpha Natural Resources

Three activists demanding an end to mountaintop removal, block entrance to corporate office, stop business as usual.

June 20, 2014 — Bristol, VA. Three activists with Mountain Justice and Radical Action for Mountains and People’s Survival (RAMPS) are currently stopping business as usual at Alpha Natural Resources headquarters in Bristol, VA, in protest of Alpha’s devastating practices of mountaintop removal coal mining. Activists were protesting the opening of new mines on Coal River Mountain in southern West Virginia. Two protestors are locked in front of the front doors of the office, while a third is hanging from a flag pole displaying a banner that reads “Save Coal River Mountain”

“That mountain is the mountain I learned to hunt on, it’s the mountain that’s sustained my family for generations. I’ll be a dead man before I see them take what’s left up there,” said
Junior Walk, of West Virginia. Walk lives in the Coal River Valley, directly below Alpha operations on Coal River Mountain. Alpha recently began blasting on the 264 acre Collins Fork mine. Local residents and activists have opposed surface mining on Coal River Mountain since the late 1990s.

2014-06-20 06.25.05-2“I am here today to demand an end to Alpha’s role in the destruction of Appalachia. While coal is exported and profits leave the region, the health effects remain in the communities,” said Camilo Pereira, one of the protestors blocking the office. Two of the protesters in a lockbox at the front door of Alpha’s headquarters and blocked the entrance.

While coal production has decreased nationwide in the past years, coal exports are at an all-time high. The overwhelming majority of coal extracted from Coal River Mountain is metallurgical coal used primarily to produce steel and is likely bound for export markets. Adam Hall, of Glen Daniel, WV, said, “As a country, we have made great strides against the dangers of coal fired power plants. However, new emission regulations will not stop Alpha from blowing up Coal River Mountain and endangering my home and family.”

More than 20 peer-reviewed studies demonstrate a connection between mountaintop removal coal mining operations and increased cases of lung and heart diseases, as well as increased birth defects, early mortality, and depression.

The RAMPS Campaign’s ongoing work against Alpha Natural Resources demands an end to Alpha’s mountaintop removal practices in Appalachia. Furthermore, RAMPS urges the company to re-employ miners for effective and thorough reclamation of retired and abandoned mine sites.

Photos of today’s protest can be found here when available.

Mountain Justice is a regional and national network that has worked for 10 years to support community based, grassroots efforts to end Mountaintop Removal and build a brighter future in Appalachia.

RAMPS Supports Big Mountain Spring Training Camp

Thursday, June 19th, 2014
posted by fern
Fern Benally speaking at the Massive Kayenta mine, which is feet from her home. Two of six draglines are pictured.

Fern Benally speaking at the Massive Kayenta mine, which is feet from her home. Two of six draglines are pictured.

Elders Circle of the 40-Year Sovereign Dineh Nation Resistance, Black Mesa Indigenous Support, Save the Confluence, RAMPS, and Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment worked in concert to hold a training camp at Big Mountain this May. As resisters to Peabody Energy from the decades-exploited lands in Appalachia, to the corporate headquarters in Saint Louis, to resisters of Peabody’s and the US Government’s forced relocation at Big Mountain, we came together to learn from one another and to plan for the future of our fight against this coal company. We also joined together to honor those 40 years of resistance to cultural genocide and mining on Big Mountain.

Fern Benally explains the history and current status of the battle against Peabody's Kayenta strip mine

Fern Benally explains the history and current status of the battle against Peabody’s Kayenta strip mine

Direct action is not a new idea on Black Mesa, as active resistance has been practiced since the invasion of European colonists. Since the 1974 relocation act, which legalized the displacement 14,000 indigenous people and hundreds of Diné families, there have been countless acts of brave defiance against the political and corporate actors who seek to exploit the land and displace its people. This training camp was a place for the sharing of cultural and spiritual knowledge, the exchange of skills in nonviolent direct action, practice of healing arts, and vital dialogue across generational, racial, and cultural identities.

RAMPS and MORE members offered trainings in nonviolent direct action strategy and technique for those who came to camp to explore those tactics, and Chuck Nelson, D. Steele, and D. J. Estep spoke on a panel about the health and labor impacts of surface mining in Appalachia. This camp furthered the exchange between resisters in Appalachia and Big Mountain and strengthened a tradition of dialogue and mutual support that has been growing for many years, and which we plan to build into the future.