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.