Archive for February, 2012

Squirrel is Free!

Saturday, February 18th, 2012
posted by fern

Dear friends and allies in the fight against strip mining,

Good news: I’m out of jail! I served my term of a week and was recently released from Southern Regional Jail. Thank you once again to all of you who supported me throughout that process. Because I had a whole community backing my action from beginning to end, I NEVER felt alone or afraid, even up on that strip mine, even in a jail cell. Blocking mining and then serving time for it wasn’t just something that I* did, it was something that so, so many of us made happen together.

While I’ve been overwhelmed with the personal support I’ve received, RAMPS could really use some financial support right now to help keep things running. One thing we’ve had almost no luck  keeping running lately is cars: RAMPS (and virtually all members of RAMPS) currently have no working vehicles. It’s very difficult for us to even meet with each other because we’re strewn out in four different locations without a reliable method of transportation. If you can, please help us out by donating to the RAMPS General Fund.”

Thank you all for everything you do.  Now let’s take this fight even further.


*And of course Junior, Becks, and Eli!

A bucket was better; A short piece on the crap system!

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012
posted by fern

My deep gratitude goes out to all of you who have supported me in jail. To those who have been answering my phone calls; sending me books, letters, and pictures of cute kittens; putting money on my account to pay for commissary; praying, telling others and telling others to pray: Thank you. I’ve been so cheered and encouraged by all of these things.

I want everyone to know that I’m quite well and have been enjoying my “activist vacation” in some ways – but that’s only because I am in here for a very short while. I urge everyone to remember (as I will better from now on, I promise) those whose freedom has been taken for months and even years because of their part in the fight for justice and liberation.

I believed that the United States criminal justice system was strategically oppressive before I went to jail, but going through the process of getting and staying here has made me seriously question why we allow it. The women in my pod have been good to me, showing me how things are done and making sure all of my needs are met. Not one of them should be locked up in here.

In the Belly of the Beast

Saturday, February 11th, 2012
posted by strangur

Three people were able to visit Catherine Ann at the Southern Regional Jail today.  She is doing well, keeping warm and getting along well with her pod mates.  She really appreciates the letters and support she is receiving from the community and we are happy to report that mail is reaching her very quickly, so it is not too late to send a letter.

Becks, the other sitter from the tree sit last summer has issued the following statement of solidarity:

After about five days in the tree, Catherine Ann and I were confronted by two security guards who at first seemed to just want to discuss the reason we both decided to ascend two trees on this mine site.  After several minutes however, one security guard proceeded to get angrier and angrier.  He wanted to “warn” us that there was a buncher machine that was making its way to us and would be at our trees any day after that.  He wanted to tell us this so that we wouldn’t get “bunched”– something he said they would do without hesitation, and that if we wanted to survive, that we should get down from the trees immediately.  What he was doing was intimidating us or at least trying to intimidate us.  Obviously Catherine Ann and I knew that there was no way they were going to “bunch” us and our trees and that this was merely an attempt to scare us into coming down.  Nevertheless, this form of intimidation is a real tactic and it’s a tactic that has been used again on Catherine Ann in the courts.  In order to have a trial, a right that we are legally allowed, she would need to be able to pay thousands of dollars in court costs.  How do we have a right to trial if the only people who can have a trial are those who can pay the outrageous costs, those who are economically privileged?  This form of intimidation, similar to the physical intimidation we faced in the trees, is not acceptable.  When we can’t properly fight back and defend ourselves against a corrupt system or when we are only able to defend ourselves if we have the economic privilege to do so, it becomes even clearer to me how broken this system is.  The more injustices we see and the more corruption, control, and abuse thrown at us, the more resistance and strength the coal industry will face.   

Becks is still awaiting legal proceedings relating to their role in the tree sit last summer.

Resistance Behind Bars

Thursday, February 9th, 2012
posted by fern

Today Catherine Ann went to Magistrate court in Beckley, WV and plead no contest to trespassing charges related to last summer’s tree sit.  As a result she was required to report within an hour of the deal to Southern Regional jail where she is now serving seven days and she owes court costs of $160.  The conspiracy charges related to the summer action were dropped.  Before we left her at the jail, she was in good spirits as she enjoyed some tasty vegan treats and a few laughs with friends.  She certainly could use your support over the next week, you can write to her at:

Catherine Ann MacDougal
Southern Regional Jail
1200 Airport Road
Beaver, WV 25813

She is also asking folks to consider donating to the legal fund if they would like to support her financially.

Before entering the jail Catherine Ann left us with the following statement:

I am prepared to go to jail today; when I decided to climb that oak tree,  I knew that I could go to jail for much longer than this.  I chose to plead no contest because I wanted to be sure that I could continue to organize during the next few months and because I am not willing or able to pay thousands of dollars to the courts for a trial.  This experience has really opened my eyes to the glaring injustice embedded in the United States criminal justice system.

A “right” to a jury trial doesn’t mean much if we are intimidated into pleading guilty and penalized for taking a case to trial.  The right to a jury trial doesn’t mean very much if we have to pay for every juror and face fees that are prohibitive for those of us who don’t have a lot of money.  The right to a jury trial also doesn’t mean much if I know that I won’t be able to adequately present my own defense, and that the jury will be made to feel as if it has no other option than to convict me.

What is happening today is not a loss for the movement.  I will be out of jail in seven days, and this experience has only strengthened my conviction to work to stop mountaintop removal.  Thank you all so much for your support.