Archive for January, 2013

Disturbing Greg Boyce’s Peace: StopPeabody Activists Kidnapped by Hotel Security

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013
posted by mlr
Flyer distributed near Peabody CEO Greg Boyce's St. Louis home identifying him as a "Climate Criminal" and calling him out for forcing Navajo off their land and stealing miner's pensions.

Activists were arrested distributing this flier near Peabody CEO Boyce’s apartment

Two activists were arrested for distributing this flier near the apartment of Peabody Energy CEO Greg Boyce on Tuesday inside the Chase Park Plaza hotel and apartment complex. The activists were charged with disturbing the peace and released after eight hours in custody.

Earlier that morning, a small group known as the “Chase Park Plaza Committee for Non-Evil” leafletted inside the building’s parking garage, posting warnings to tenants and guests that Boyce, a “known climate criminal,” resides inside the building. The flier states: “Mr. Boyce’s crimes, while too extensive and storied to detail completely here, reveal a legacy of gross disregard for the city of St. Louis, workers’ rights, human life, and the future of the planet as a whole,” and features criticism of Peabody’s complicity in the forced relocation of Dineh (Navajo) families from their ancestral homeland in Black Mesa, Arizona. Activists also used the flier to highlight Peabody’s efforts to shirk on their obligations to retired coal miners, as well as the massive $61 million tax break that Peabody received from the city of St. Louis in 2010.

You can support continued direct action against extraction by making a generous donation to the RAMPS legal fund.

Video, photos, Peabody 12 free, 1 from Arch still behind bars

Saturday, January 26th, 2013
posted by admin

All 12 arrestees from Jan. 26 #StopPeabody action have been released from jail!  However, one activist is still in jail after his Jan. 22 arrest at Arch Coal’s headquarters.

Please consider a contribution to the Legal Defense Fund to support these great folks.

Yesterday was an amazing coming together of East and West, Native people and non-Native supporters, to confront Peabody Energy’s trail of destruction and despair.  The national anti-extraction movement continues to grow.  Here’s a collection of videos and photos from the two MORE-RAMPS-BMIS Winter Action Camp actions, and the letter from Black Mesa to Peabody:

Video from StopPeabody action.

Entirety of Fern Benally’s speech at Peabody HQ

There’s also several statements from arrestees available on the RAMPS and MORE websites.  Just scroll through the posts.

Citizens Bring the Fight to Peabody; 12 Arrested

Friday, January 25th, 2013
posted by mlr
Fern Benally of Black Mesa and Dustin Steele of Mingo Co, WV on the steps of Peabody HQ

Fern Benally of Black Mesa, AZ and Dustin Steele of Mingo Co, WV on the steps of Peabody HQ

An unprecedented coalition of Navajo (Dineh) residents of Black Mesa, AZ, Appalachian residents, St. Louis residents, military veterans and labor unions brought the fight for our future to Peabody’s HQ today.  Nearly 100 of us had a raucous rally opened with a prayer by Black Mesa native Don Yellowman, followed by speeches demanding Peabody stop destabilizing the climate, forcing the Dineh off their land, and cheating workers out of their retirement benefits.  Peabody representatives promised to accept a letter from Fern Benally and Don Yellowman, the Navajo residents of Black Mesa, but they broke their promise and called the police instead.

But we didn’t back down: people rushed over the barricades and locked arms and legs on the steps.  Peabody security official, Jeff Learner, who had promised Black Mesa residents that he would deliver their letter to CEO Greg Boyce came out to see us, but ignored our chants demanding that he come accept the letter.  Instead, he stood by as the police forcefully ripped people apart using pain compliance pressure points and twisting heads and arrested them.  One arrested member of Veterans for Peace person was handcuffed, walking compliantly with police and was suddenly thrown to the ground by the police, for no reason.

Residents of St. Louis and West Virginia demanding Peabody CEO meet with Navajo (Dineh) representatives

Residents of St. Louis and West Virginia demanding Peabody CEO meet with Navajo (Dineh) representatives

After twelve people were arrested, the rest of us seized the streets of St. Louis to march and let the people know their city was subsidizing Peabody’s destructive and abusive behavior with funding taken from public education.  Despite heavy police presence, we finished our march without further arrests.

We just got word from the arrestees that they are being charged with trespassing, resisting arrest and failure to disburse.  Their bail has not been set.  In the meantime please donate to their legal support fund:

Resistance makes the powers that be quake: Statement from a Protester at Peabody

Friday, January 25th, 2013
posted by mlr
Adam Hall of Glen Daniel, WV standing in solidarity today with Navajo Dine and St. Louis Residents

Adam Hall of Glen Daniel, WV standing in solidarity today with Navajo Dine and St. Louis Residents

I am in St. Louis today for many reasons. To stand in solidarity with the native people of Black Mesa and the Navajo nation, as they demand to have their grievances heard. To raise awareness with Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment against Peabody Coal for taking taxpayers’ money just for threatening to leave town, thus taking resources from the city for schools and other services. To shed light on the pensions and benefits that are on the verge of being stripped away while countless men and women, both past and present, toil and struggle with the promise that the dues they pay will secure their days of leisure.

How does this all tie together? At face value we see the resource: coal. But when you look beyond the resource and see the legacy the industry leaves for the people, those who live in the shadow of the extraction, you see nothing that can be sustained. You see sickness, dying, conflict, torment, grief, sorrow, and anger. These feelings are not sustainable and are in need of remedy. Yet we are ignored, mocked, threatened, and ultimately, for some, broken. This is where those in power want us. They want complacency and obedience, which is masked with the illusion that if we give our lives to those in power our quality of life will improve. Resistance makes the powers that be quake. They know that should the masses resist, quality of life could be fair for all, thus rendering the current structures of power obsolete to society.

Peabody Coal was built on a foundation of deception and intimidation. Where they go,
suffering follows. Today I will let them know just how united these struggles are against their power. Peabody’s past and present abuses will come back on them today, when those affected by their practices from the east and west unite and demand justice for our people.

In solidarity,

Adam Hall

We are rising up together. Join us.: Statement from Protesters at Peabody

Friday, January 25th, 2013
posted by mlr

harryAs a St. Louisan, I recognize the opportunity and obligation that I have to challenge Peabody Coal at its headquarters, right here in the city I love.

From their offices in St. Louis, Greg Boyce and the other executives at Peabody Coal give orders to poison and displace our brothers and sisters in the coalfields, and to continue mining coal when we know that climate change threatens all the people and plants and animals on Earth.

Our friends from the frontlines of Peabody’s violent operations have joined us in St. Louis today, and their presence gives this action great meaning. I want to retell a story I have heard in recent days from Diné and Hopi resisters who have traveled here from their homeland. The colonization of this continent that began 500 years ago continues today, as Peabody and the federal government have colluded to forcibly relocate native people from their lands, and tear out the coal lies that beneath. This relocation, which started in 1974, is the largest forced relocation of indigenous people in the United States since the Trail of Tears.

I cross the line and risk arrest today, not knowing for sure when we will make real our dreams for justice, but knowing that my only choice is to stand on my convictions. I feel connected to those throughout history who have organized and resisted against all odds.

To return native lands, to end the extraction of coal, oil, and gas, we will have to break the rules that are written by our corporate and extractive government. We are breaking away from this violent economy. We are building a world of just relations. We are rising up together. Join us.

– Harry Alper

Standing on the sidelines will not ensure our safety: Statement from Protester at Peabody

Friday, January 25th, 2013
posted by mlr

I came to Saint Louis for graduate school, hoping to do research that would bring about technological solutions to climate change.   Underlying this standard graduate student naivete was the far more ubiquitous and far, far more dangerous overreliance on and faith in technology. In the context of our world, where global industrial Capitalism reigns supreme and demands continuous growth and exploitation, the question “which technology will save us from climate change?” is moot. There is no fancy solar cell, or wind turbine, or nuclear whatever that could ever hope to address the crises of Capitalism.

On this day I’m going off to participate in the rally at Peabody to stand in solidarity with everyone in Appalachia, the Navajo and Hopi Nations, Saint Louis, and every other living community. I want to draw attention to the decades of exploitation that the Navajo and Hopi nations have endured due to Peabody’s role in this repugnant system. I want to draw attention to the way we exploit our planet, and how that is driving us to the brink.

Will today’s actions significantly stop emissions, or stop Peabody? No, probably not. Will this give people who work at Peabody or the lines upon lines of police that will inevitably be protecting Peabody’s headquarters any time to pause and really consider what it is that they’re defending? Almost certainly not. Will it bring a renewed sense of hope and ease and invigorate the ongoing struggle? That would be nice and I hope that happens. This is just one action and one day.

We’re steadily marching towards a future that will see a 4 degree Celsius rise in global temperature, if not more. This scenario at least ensures a global level of suffering and death that we’ve never witnessed before and can hardly imagine. At worst it means there won’t be a human species any more, let alone countless other species.

The actions that I and everyone else take on this day should be judged in this context. Is today’s action enough? Of course not. Is it too rash or radical? Give me a break. We will all learn from the experiences of today, and we will experience the mounting pressures, and change accordingly.

There is no hope for an environmentally just world as long as giant fossil fuel companies such as Peabody are allowed to exist. I hope that others will join in the fight against this corporation and all that it represents. Standing on the sidelines will not ensure our safety or the safety of those we care for.

– Chris Singer

Navajo, Appalachians, Veterans, and St. Louis Residents Confront Peabody Coal

Friday, January 25th, 2013
posted by mlr
Don Yellowman of Black Mesa and Dustin Steel of Mingo County, WV standing in solidarity at Peabody

Don Yellowman of Black Mesa and Dustin Steel of Mingo County, WV standing in solidarity at Peabody

Banner Reading "Stop the War on Mother Earth.  Peabody: Bad for St. Louis, Bad for the Earth

Banner dropped near Peabody Headquarters

ST. LOUIS, MO — About one hundreds of protesters are gathered in downtown St. Louis today outside of the Peabody Coal corporate headquarters. St. Louis locals were joined by Navajo residents from Black Mesa, Ariz., Appalachians from coal-burdened West Virginia, and supporters from across the United States to demand the cessation of strip mining and accountability for land and people.  Navajo residents of Black Mesa, Don Yellowman and Fern Benally are demanding to speak with Peabody CEO Greg H. Boyce and have a letter detailing their concerns.   (Read it here.) Protesters including representatives from Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment, Radical Action for Mountain People’s Survival, Black Mesa Indigenous Support, Veterans for Peace, SEIU and other labor unions are refusing to leave until Peabody executives meet with them.   Banners have been dropped from two nearby buildings reading, “Stop the War on Mother Earth.  Peabody: Bad for St. Louis, Bad for the Planet” and “Peabody Kills.”

Peabody, the largest coal company in the U.S., operates massive strip mines on Black Mesa, Ariz., ancestral homelands of the Navajo people. Tens of thousands of Navajo families have been forcibly relocated in order to clear the land for Peabody’s strip mines; this constitutes the largest forced relocation of indigenous peoples in the U.S since the Trail of Tears. To this day, Navajo and Hopi people are engaged in resistance to the forced relocation and mining practices threaten the land and livelihood of future generations.

In nearly 45 years of operation, Peabody’s mines on Black Mesa have been the source of over 325 million tons of carbon dioxide discharged into the atmosphere#. The strip mines have damaged countless graves, sacred sites, and homes. 70 percent of a once-pristine desert aquifer has been drained for coal operations. The remaining groundwater is polluted, causing devastation to a once-flourishing ecosystem.

“The mine affects lots of ways of life. It’s destroying the places that have names. Everywhere you go here, every place has a name: names I learned from my grandparents, names that have existed for hundreds of years.  A lot of those places and knowledge of those places and cultural values are being destroyed by the mine. It’s destroying our way of life,” says Gerold Blackrock, a resident of Black Mesa.

Peabody’s strip mines harm the health of communities wherever they operate, from Black Mesa to Appalachia. Appalachian miners’ hard-earned healthcare benefits and pensions are threatened by Peabody’s business practices. “Peabody and Arch dumped their obligations to retired miners into Patriot.  This was a calculated decision to cheat people out of their pensions,” said retired United Mine Workers of America miner Terry Steele.

“Enabled by the City of St. Louis, Peabody’s corporate executives hide out in their downtown office building, removed from the destruction they cause in communities across the nation,” said Dan Cohn, St. Louis resident.  In 2010, the Board of Aldermen, in conjunction with the St. Louis Development Corporation, gave Peabody a $61 million tax break, including $2 million that was designated for the St. Louis City Public Schools.

“Peabody’s everyday business contributed to this summer’s triple-digit heat waves and historic drought. St. Louis residents are here today to stand in solidarity with the other communities that Peabody impacts and demand that our city stops subsidizing the unjust relocation of indigenous people and climate change. We need our taxpayer development dollars to be invested in green jobs, not corporations who have no regard for human life,” Reggie Rounds, a MORE member, said.

MORE is currently collecting signatures for a ballot initiative that would force the city of St. Louis to divest public money from fossil fuel corporations and switch over incentives to renewable energy and sustainability initiatives. The St. Louis Sustainable Energy ballot initiative has gained the support of numerous local social and environmental groups, small businesses, and 6th Ward Alderperson candidate Michelle Witthaus, who was present at today’s protest.

Today’s action is part of a growing movement for indigenous self-determination, and against exploitative business practices that destroy communities and land.

Letter from Black Mesa Residents to Peabody Execs

Friday, January 25th, 2013
posted by mlr
Navajo Dine Don Yellowman and Fern Benally in St. Louis to confront Peabody Coal

Navajo Dine Don Yellowman and Fern Benally in St. Louis to confront Peabody Coal

Dear Mr. Greg H. Boyce and other Peabody Officials,

We have travelled from the Navajo Nation located in what is now the State of Arizona.  We are in St. Louis on behalf of some of the elders from Black Mesa/Big Mountain who are impacted by the coal mining back home.  This letter is to request a face to face meeting with you or others responsible for the coal mine out in Black Mesa, to address our issues and concerns.  We personally live within the boundary and vicinity of Peabody Western Coal Company.

The 46 year old strip-mining on Black Mesa is devastating for our people. Our Dine’ (Navajo People) are facing forced relocation as Peabody Western Coal Co., makes way for the strip-mining; in addition to the many environmental and health issues which they face on a daily basis. The pollution from Kayenta Mine on Black Mesa is visible every day. The coal mine does not effectively extinguish coal fires to prevent the toxic gases from being emitted. The gaseous pollution poisons and endangers the respiratory health of the residents.  Many coal miners suspect they have lung diseases caused by the coal but Peabody Western has adamantly denied coal being the direct cause of pulmonary diseases. The residents have noticed increased prevalence of lung problems since the coal mining began in late 1960s and 1970s. It does not require a high education to make the correlations.

Before Peabody’s arrival, natural springs were plentiful. Our animals, both wild and domestic, quenched their thirst effectively without needing to search for waters. Wildlife was in abundance, as were domestic livestock. Natural springs are extinct now. Black Mesa residents now face the daily chores of hauling water. They drive as far as 30 to 40 miles round trip to deliver potable water to their homes and livestock, while wild animals are left to fend for themselves. Water is essential for life. However, Peabody has wasted billions of acre feet of irreplaceable water. The pristine Navajo Aquifer is irreversibly damaged according to researcher Daniel Higgins, PhD.

The only option, Peabody Energy, is to transition to solar. It is well known, fossil fuels are the dirtiest energy and coal emits the most carbon dioxide, contributing to global climate change. Coal causes detrimental effects to the Indigenous Peoples of Black Mesa. Peabody needs to be active in the immediate healing of Black Mesa residents. The healing process can begin with Peabody Energy ceasing further coal strip mining on Black Mesa. Now is the time to about face and turn to renewable energy. To take initiative in healing, Peabody Energy and Peabody Western should put profits into solar and allow the residents of Black Mesa to create their own way of life as we see fit.

Our people live with these impacts, as Peabody Western reaps financial profits in the billions each year from the bountiful resources extracted from the heart of our ancestral land. The Dine’ people are unable to focus on their prayers and sacred offerings because of coal mining impacts. We, also request that there be a study to collect scientific data available for respiratory diseases from coal mining on Black Mesa.  We have personal knowledge and we witness the damages, losses and impacts the Black Mesa people have endured physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Black Mesa is where it all begins.  The Dine’ people struggle to survive, as the southwest cities benefits from cheap resources.

Finally, a direct message from our elders living on their ancestral homelands in the former joint use area now known as the Hopi Partitioned Land: they have asked for you to stop mining on Black Mesa and to stop the forced relocation of our people immediately.  Tens of thousands of our people were forced to leave their land to make room for your mine, making this the biggest forced relocation of Native people in this country since the Trial of Tears.  Do not expand your mine anymore!


Fern Benally

Don Yellowman

Statement from resister in Big Mountain, Ariz.

Thursday, January 24th, 2013
posted by admin

Please share this on Facebook and Twitter!  And crank the volume!

In January 2012 a Dine (Navajo) resister speaks about Peabody and the U.S. Government orchestrating the largest forced relocation since the Trail of Tears, as well as the destruction of sacred sites and traditional medicinal plants and herbs.  Ultimately, he tells Peabody to leave his ancestral homeland in Big Mtn., Ariz.

In connecting colonial legacies, resource extraction disproportionately impacts indigenous communities, and the tragedy of strip mining in Appalachia started over 500 years ago with the first forced relocation of indigenous people in North America, such as the Mingo and Cherokee.  Two Big Mountain resisters, Black Mesa Indigenous Support (BMIS), RAMPS and Mountain Justice join Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment (MORE) tomorrow to confront Peabody Energy at their home in St. Louis, Mo.

Please share this on Facebook and Twitter!

No Business as Usual for Arch Coal Today

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013
posted by admin

CREVE COEUR, MO–Seven protesters disrupted work at Arch Coal corporate headquarters today by locking themselves together inside Arch’s office building. At approximately 9 a.m., three protesters disguised as delivery personnel wheeled a 500-pound potted plant filled with concrete up to the third floor offices of Arch Coal and locked themselves to the plant. Another four protesters dressed in business attire joined them and locked themselves to each other, effectively blocking people from entering or leaving the office, while another group of protesters entered the ground floor lobby and released helium balloons floating a banner with a drawing of a dragline that read, “John Eaves, your coal company kills.”


Balloon Banner reads “John Eaves, Your Coal Company Kills”

The protesters in the lobby confronted office workers with protest songs and chants that emphasized a sustained resistance to Arch’s dirty energy and culpability in the climate crisis. Protesters hung another banner from a second floor banister that read, “Arch: Nemesis of the Land and People.” When asked to leave by police approximately 45 minutes later, the protesters downstairs complied but remained outside to sing and support protesters upstairs.

Arch Coal, a Missouri-based company, mines extensively in Appalachia.  Arch’s operations follow a history of flagrantly irresponsible mining practices that poison groundwater, destroy mountains, and uproot Appalachian culture. According to blockader Margaret Fetzer, “Arch [has] been sacrificing the health of communities in Appalachia and across the world for their quarterly profits. Capitalism does not answer to communities, it only consumes them.”