Who are the Outside Agitators?

Tuesday, July 26th, 2011
posted by rampsmedia

Post-arrest statement of Elias Schewel

mugshot for trespassing on Bee Tree Surface mine

I have had the chance to recuperate after our hike in, set up and eventual arrest and now want to broadcast some of my initial reflections from the experience.

Junior and I were out of water and food, and the sweltering heat meant that we were drinking water meant for the sitters. We had spent many hours on the site the night before getting things set up. Four hours after the Office of Surface Mining was called and work on the site was halted, we eventually decided to reveal ourselves. After hiking over some sediment ponds and up a road we were eventually met by the occupants of the helicopter that had been circling above us.  Three men in golf shirts and loafers stepped out of the helicopter, and were quickly attended by mine security staff. Mine security took our hiking packs and took us back to show “Big Mike,” head of mine security, and the well-dressed men who accompanied him exactly where the treesitters were. After a walk and talk with them, we sat and waited for the police to arrest us and take us away.

I’ve been asked to write specifically about my time on the site, my interactions with Alpha personnel and our eventual arrest and detainment. This blog entry here will share one of a few important perspectives that I took away from my brief time on the site.

Becks, Catherine-Ann and I are no more “outside agitators” than the men who stepped out of that helicopter and sternly spoke to me about the treesit, or Alpha Natural Resources itself. Some people on the site wouldn’t respond to my friendly question “where y’all from?” but those who did never responded with those two beautiful words: “West Virginia.” I know that some of the miners on the site may be from the valley. However, the people who are making the real money live somewhere else, and would never suffer strip mining upstream from their water supply or uphill from their families. Similarly, Alpha Natural Resources is headquartered comfortably in Abingdon, VA. Becks, Catherine-Ann and I were all born somewhere else, but now call the Coal River Valley home. We drink, cook with and shower in water pumped in from Eccles – a town also surrounded by strip mining.

That was my first time in the holler where we set up Becks and Catherine- Ann. I walked in there with Junior, and he had endless stories about hunting and hiking there with his father. Just ask Junior who the real “carpet baggers” are down here. When will Kevin Crutchfield and the other Alpha Natural Resources executives, and “Big Mike” move their families to a nice house beneath Brushy Fork Impoundment? Hell, I’ll build it for them, and I’ll add all the fancy appliances I know they’d expect. Until that day I will never be slowed down, or distracted by someone naming me an “outside agitator.”

Click here to read Eli’s pre-action statement.

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