Coalfield Justice Day
June 23, 2003
Photos by Abraham Mwuara and Vivian Stockman
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Groups in three states rally simultaneously
Fed up with the coal industrys
destructive mining techniques and negligent regulators, citizens in West
Virginia, Kentucky and Pennsylvania rallied simultaneously on Monday,
June 23, to demand better
laws and enforcement for coalfield residents. Costumes, puppets,
poetry, street theatre, speakers and musicians rocked the street demonstrations, while visiting
from other states piggy-backed on our events by hanging banners on city
buildings in acts of nonviolent civil resistance. TV, radio and
newspaper reporters covered events in all three states..
West Virginia, about 100 of us (Janet Fout
counted 85 folks as people were still arriving) met outside the Charleston
branch of the federal Office of Surface Mining to demand an end to mountaintop
removal coal mining. We called for the firing of OSM head Jeff Jarrett,
who is responsible for the agency's ultra-lax enforcement of mining
laws. He believes the Environmental Impact Statement on mountaintop
removal should be used as a way to get different permitting agencies to
work together to issue permits faster--despite the studies that show
just how permanently destructive MTR is to communities and the environment.
During our protests a group
of activists from North Carolina hung a banner--"Mountaintop
Removal Destroys Our Heritage"--on a nearby parking garage.
(See photo below.) The banner was still hanging after our protest, but
was apparently later taken down without incident.
About 100 people gathered in Lexington, Ky. to
hear--over a solar-powered PA--speeches and street theatre about the
problems associated with MTR and some possible alternative energy
solutions. Four visiting activists (from Tennessee and North Carolina)
scaled a walkway over one of the city's busiest streets to unfurl
banners reading, "Stop Mountaintop Removal'' and "King
Coal is Killing Kentucky.''
The Lexington Police arrested the
four banner-hangers. Two were released on bail a few hours later. The
other two refused to do an eye retina scan, which is now apparently a
"routine" part of arrests in Kentucky, and were held
In Pittsburgh, Pa., about 50 people converged
on CONSOL Mining's headquarters to demand an end to the damages associated
with longwall mining. The
activists joined Brandon Hudock who had been camping and fasting
outside CONSOL since the Friday before the protest.
Yes, it is sad but true, we had to set aside a day to demand
justice, cause we sure arent going to get it without asking,
demanding, suing, pleading, raising awareness, and continuing to
organize. See you at the next event!
Sponsors of the
Coalfield Justice Day of Action included the
Awareness Foundation, Big Sandy Environmental Coalition, Delbarton
Environmental Community Awareness Foundation, Coal River Mountain Watch,
Citizens Coal Council, Eastern Forest Defense League, Kentuckians For
The Commonwealth, Kentucky Heartwood, Kentucky Waterways Alliance, Ohio
Valley Environmental Coalition, Mountain
Watershed Association, Ten Mile Protection Network, Ten Mile Creek
Watershed Conservancy, Tri-State Citizens Mining Network, Sierra Club,
West Virginia Citizen Action Group, West Virginia Highlands Conservancy,
West Virginia Rivers Coalition and the Wheeling Creek Watershed
Pictures from the Charleston, W.Va. protest outside
the Office of Surface Mining
George Daugherty, the Earl of Elkview, warms up the gathering crowd.
OVEC board member Gregg Anthony, center, gets his point across.
King Coal crashed our event and was interviewed by MetroNews radio.
MetroNews interviews Pauline Canterberry (left), one of the Sylvester
Dustbusters who are trying to stop Massey Energy from covering
their town in coal dust.
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