Statement of Junior Walk

My name is Junior Walk. I was born and raised in the southern part of West Virginia on the banks of the Coal River. I’d say that I am very lucky to have lived here my entire life, surrounded by mountains, forest, wildlife, and some of the best and nicest people you will ever meet on this planet. My family has been in these mountains for generations, so to me this place is my birthright. This is the only home I have ever known and the only home I’d ever want to know.

This home of mine is under attack, every day. It’s under attack by the same industry that has practically enslaved the people of this area for over a hundred years. The coal industry has decimated the Coal River watershed, as well as the majority of southern West Virginia with the weapon of strip mining. I have watched as the place where I come from has become toxic and poisonous to the people that live here. I have watched as the coal industry has murdered my friends, family, and neighbors; I have seen many close friends and family members die from cancer because of what the coal industry has done to us.

This is why I feel like it isn’t only the right thing to trespass onto property the coal companies and land companies have stolen from my people, but it’s my duty. I feel like it’s my duty to stop these corporations from destroying the place I come from and poisoning my people for another day, by any means necessary, even if that means sacrificing my personal safety and freedom.

Read statements from Elias Schewel, and tree sitters Becks Kolins and Catherine Ann MacDougal