“No Criminal Activity,” Now Join the Call-In Tomorrow

Maria Gunnoe has won numerous awards for her courage in the movement to end mountaintop removal. Photo by Vivian Stockman

Whoever it was on that House subcommittee who had OVEC’s Maria Gunnoe detained and investigated for child pornography for attempting to show this photo during her testimony… whoever that was, he wasn’t thinking too far past his own anger at Maria for daring to speak the truth about what the coal industry gets away with here.

Whoever made that accusation against Maria made it without considering the implications for the child in the photo and her family. If that person professes to be about “family values,” well, he sure doesn’t care about this family or Maria’s family. If the person professes to care about “the American Way,” he sure doesn’t care about freedom of the press or free speech. If the person (or the person’s employer if it was Committee staff) receives campaign contributions from the coal industry, well, there you have it.

When this went down Friday afternoon after Maria’s testimony, we knew if the story got “legs” it would end up coming back to bite whoever perpetrated this injustice. Geez, how many more people are seeing the photo and reading Maria’s comments about mountaintop removal because of all the blogging going on about this outrage? This one blog alone had more than 25,000 hits yesterday morning.

And how many more people are completely disgusted with Congress now?

After a weekend of worry — despite having done nothing wrong at all — and anger for all invovled (i.e. anyone who wants an end to mountaintop removal), word came late Monday afternoon that the Capitol Police’s investigation was over. The outcome? “No criminal activity.” At least on Maria’s part. Wonder if anyone is investigating the person who used his position to harass Maria. Could this at the very least be a case of slander? Maybe a case of thought crime? What is going through the mind of a person who would find that image pornographic?

Maria, the family of the child in the photo and the photographer all deserve a formal, written apology on subcommittee letterhead to clear their names from any association with the vile, false and hurtful accusation.

As blogger Beth Wellington points out “Would be nice is all these eyeballs on the story would actually write Congress and the Obama administration and Romney about their outrage. Sadly, for the photographer, publications are using Tumblr to reuse her copyrighted image without permission or payment.”

Indeed. OVEC contacted the photographer and contracted with her a fee for a one-time use of the photo, projected in a PowerPoint only during this hearing, no hard copies. We also contacted the family for their permission to show the photo.

Ok all you eyeballs out there, please take up Beth’s challenge. If writing letters is just too much to ask as your first step in joining the movemnt to end mountaintop removal, note there’s something really simple you can do tomorow: join in the National Call-In Day to End Mountaintop Removal.

Update: This Mother Jones post says:  Late Monday, a Capitol Police spokesperson said the investigation had so far “discovered no criminal activity;” in a separate phone interview with Mother Jones, Hayden said the case was still open and declined to detail any specifics. “We look at everything, and then the US attorney makes a decision about whether or not to prosecute,” he said.

This post names the names of who deemed the photo ‘inappropriate.’

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