Archive for October, 2012

WV Residents & Supporters Attempt to Deliver Letter to Gov. Tomblin

Wednesday, October 24th, 2012
posted by nick

35 West Virginia voters and supporters attempted to deliver a letter to Governor Tomblin this morning at the Governor’s Mansion in Charleston.  The letter brings attention to the dying coal industry and calls for economic diversification in the coalfields.  As residents spoke with police officers at the door, supporters witnessed the Governor escaping public dialogue by driving out his back driveway.  Residents and supporters proceeded to the Governor’s office, where the letter was signed and delivered to Tomblin’s Director of Constituent Services.   


The text of the letter is below:


Mountain Justice Fall Summit was a great success!

Monday, October 22nd, 2012
posted by admin

This past weekend many college students, folks from around the east coast, and even travelers from Europe converged in Rock Creek, WV for the Mountain Justice Fall Summit, an annual gathering put together by Mountain Justice, Coal River Mountain Watch, and RAMPS. The weekend consisted of many workshops, networking, and even a dance party.

As folks arrived on Friday evening, there was a community panel and a showing of On Coal River. The weekend was both a reunion and a time to meet people from different communities around the world. It was a weekend of building a stronger, more inclusive movement.

It was a beautiful fall weekend–perfect weather for a positive learning environment. Summit attendees went to many workshops such as mountaintop removal 101, non-violent direct action trainings, campaign strategies and tactics, de-escalation, capitalism and the coal industry, militarism in appalachia, and the prison industrial complex. Each workshop was led by members of RAMPS, Coal River Mountain Watch, Mountain Justice, and hosts of Appal Shop’s radio show, “Calls From Home” on WMMT. The day was full of new information for everyone. No matter who you talked to, the answer at the end of the day was, “wow, I’ve taken in a lot of information today.”

In order to let all that we’d learned sink in, we decided to celebrate some birthdays and have a dance party on Saturday. We all danced and talked late into the night. Beside a warm fire, folks sat around telling jokes and engaging in more serious conversations about college divestment campaigns, direct action in Appalachia, campaign planning, and anti-oppression. Around midnight we started to go off to sleep because we knew that the next day there would be a lot to do.

On Sunday folks woke up to a wonderful breakfast, prepared by Seeds of Peace and Everybody’s Kitchen, and packed up to head to Kayford Mountain. Kayford, Larry Gibson’s property, bears witness both to the devastation of mountaintop removal and the power of resistance. At Kayford people were met by about a dozen counter-protesters. Yet, after some time, Fall Summit attendees and the counter protesters were able to engage in some healthy dialogue.

After the eye-opening experience on Kayford, the weekend came to an end as folks left for home. Attendees committed to staying involved with the movement in southern West Virginia. The resounding commitment to end Mountaintop Removal, and all extractive industries, rang loudly across the board. Students and community members plan on bring the information they learned this weekend back to their hometowns.

Mountain Justice Fall Summit was a great success! We hope to see many of our new friends back for exciting RAMPS actions over the next few months.

RAMPS Sends Representatives to Support Tar Sands Blockade

Thursday, October 11th, 2012
posted by fern

On Monday and Tuesday of this week, three of us from RAMPS took the Everybody’s Kitchen bus down to the Dallas area to support our allies at the Tar Sands Blockade. Here in Texas, grassroots activists have been resisting transcanada’s pipeline construction for weeks, even in the face of extreme police brutality. We’re here to help put on the action camp happening  this weekend by helping to set up camp, leading some workshops, and, of course, bringing a kitchen!

Riding to Texas in Everybody's Kitchen

Riding to Texas in Everybody’s Kitchen

Folks here in Texas have been using lockdowns and a tree village to resist some of the first construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline, which would transport up to 830,000 barrels of crude oil  per day from the tar sands mines in Canada to Texas refineries. While the tar sands strip mining threatens the land of native peoples in Canada, the construction of the pipeline threatens the farms of folks from Montana to Texas, as well as the Ogallala aquifer, which provides drinking water to millions. Transcanada is using intimidation and iminent domain to sieze land along the route from those who live there, pushing forward despite permit denial from the government and dire warnings from climate scientists. Like Mountaintop Removal Mining, the Keystone Pipeline extensions will push out local residents, pollute drinking water, kill wildlife, and contribute to global warming.

Mountain Justice Fall Summit

Monday, October 8th, 2012
posted by admin

Register Now!
In the heart of the mountains of southern West Virginia.

The Mountain Justice Fall Summit will help you develop skills and gain valuable experience in the struggle to stop mountain top removal.

Friday night we will kick off the summit with an awesome panel of inspiring young West Virginia activists including Junior Walk of Coal River Mountain Watch, Rachel Parsons of Athens WV, Larrry Gibson’s daughter Victoria, and several more inspiring young people.

Following the panel discussion will be a screening of the new documentary “On Coal River” which takes an inside look at the lives of people living in the Coal River Valley, and their epic, multi-year struggle to bring attention to a 2 billion gallon lake of toxic coal sludge hovering directly above the Marsh Fork Elementary School.

Saturday will feature workshops and learning about mountaintop removal, coal slurry, community and campus organizing, non violent direct action training, and more. Saturday night we will have some live mountain music, a little dancing and a bonfire.

On Sunday we will visit the late Larry Gibson’s famous Kayford Mountain to see mountaintop removal up close, and to do a community service project.

The MJ Fall Summit will provide all your meals and there will be tent camping. This is a great way to get more deeply involved in the fight to end mountaintop removal – meet new friends who care about the environment and social injustice.

The cost for MJ Fall Summit is a sliding scale ($25 – $75) and you can Register Now!

There is an option to remain after the weekend is over, and camp for the following week and develop more in depth plans and strategy to oppose mountaintop removal. MJ Fall Summit participants should be aware that tensions are somewhat high in the area over the MTR issue, but we are dedicated to peaceful, non-violent resistance. All MJ Fall Summit will be required to abide by the Mountain Justice non-violence policy.

Statement from RAMPS Tree-Sitter Sent to Jail Today

Thursday, October 4th, 2012
posted by fern

Becks Kolins took a plea deal this morning (10/04) in Raleigh County Magistrate Court. They were sentenced to twenty-four hours beginning this morning. This is what they wrote before being taken to jail:

On July 20th, 1 year, 3 months, 15 days ago, I ascended a tree on the Bee Tree Permit of Coal River Mountain in Raleigh County.  There I stayed for two weeks, helping, alongside my comrade fern, to halt blasting.  I descended that same tree after two weeks to take the anger I have, the anger so many have at the destruction caused by mountaintop removal coal mining, into the court room.  As I’ve discussed in posts before, the coal industry is able to get away with demolishing the land, poisoning communities, and erasing a culture by using their power to control the court, to make backroom deals, to not be held accountable for their blatant violations of laws and regulations.  The State is so much more willing to prosecute activists for the few misdemeanors than to do the same to this powerful industry, an industry that murders, an industry that manipulates, an industry that literally blows up mountains.  The importance of going to trial for me had always been to challenge that—to challenge the way the coal industry is able to escape any sort of consequence.  By going to trial (something we all have the legal right to do, without facing consequences for) and being able to stand up, it’s just another jab, another way to subvert.

I say all this with the understanding that going to trial is a huge risk.  It’s not something everyone is able to do and it is a huge privilege to be able to put oneself in that position, a position where one could be jailed, not making money, put in a violent, unsafe, incredibly heteronormative and rigidly gendered space.  Sometimes it also just doesn’t make sense.  I’ve been thinking and rethinking strategy and what would make my choice to go to trial strategic.  After the Mountain Mobilization — after it became clear that conditions in West Virginia are changing, that the market for MTR coal is declining, that workers are being laid off, that alternative economies are still non-existent and that we, the activists who put our bodies on the lines, are continuously used as scapegoats— I wondered what made sense for me to do.  On top of all these things, when I spoke with my lawyer the other day about potentially taking a plea deal, he informed me that assuming we went to trial on Thursday, he’d have to get a continuance, another continuance.  This would be the third continuance, the first coming after he, my lawyer, forgot to go to (or chose to not go, or had something better to do, or or or…) pre-trial motions for me, thus both delaying the possibility of an earlier trial and allowing for the issuance of a warrant for my arrest.  The second continuance came after my arresting officer requested time for vacation.  Fortunately he, Officer Mitchell, was able to get that time for vacation from his demanding job, and I got to wait another three months.