Arrest Statement from Becks Kolins

I write this statement as I sit overlooking Bee Tree hollow, a beautiful hollow I have come to know and love in the past two weeks. I’ve spent a lot of time up here reflecting about how flawed the system we live in is. The oppressed are divided by the oppressors, in a way that makes collective liberation seems almost impossible and allows this hierarchy to persist.As we sat here for the past two weeks, we have faced – and I am shocked to say this – kindness from Alpha. The head of security and head of blasting have checked on us daily to make sure we haven’t been harassed. But even with such questionable kindness displayed towards us, they continue to poison water and destroy communities, erasing a rich and beautiful culture and leaving nothing but moonscape land in its place. This shallow kindness can not let us forget the atrocities that are occurring.

I am writing this statement because on Tuesday, August 2, two weeks after the start of the tree sit, I plan on coming down from my tree and entering Raleigh County jail. I am not doing this because I am giving up but rather because I am taking the fight into jail and into the legal system. The coal industry for so long has dominated not just the land, but the legal system as well. It is a legal system that consistently allows coal companies to get away with flagrant violations of the law, with damaging the land and destroying the health of the people, and that condoned the theft of this land in the first place.  That control and power needs to be challenged and needs to end. How is it that the coal industry kills innocent people and faces no legal repercussions? Catherine-Ann and I have sat in trees on Alpha’s land out of necessity to save the people and mountains of southern WV, and we will surely face legal consequences. The system is flawed. I plan on staying in jail until my status hearing where I will plead not guilty.  The laws that govern our society benefit the oppressors and those on top. I am pleading not guilty to challenge and change those laws, and to show that this black-and-white legal system used on the oppressed can not be black and white.

I have been trespassing yes, but in effort to save a place that I feel is doomed otherwise. I have been trespassing yes, but I have poisoned no one and destroyed not one irreplaceable mountain. We need to challenge Alpha not just on the land they are destroying but also in the courts they are controlling. Until enough people challenge the way the system decides who is innocent and who is guilty, then those with the most money, those at the top, like those in Alpha, will continue to face no consequences for their crimes.