May 23, 2012
West Virginia Women Lead Protest at State Capital
Sacrifice of Locks in Name of Appalachian Mountains
COOL RIDGE, W.VA. – Fed up with government inaction, a group of outraged West Virginians will gather this Memorial Day, Monday, May 28, 2012 from noon to 3 p.m. at the South Plaza of the West Virginia State Capitol in Charleston to make a powerful public statement against mountaintop removal coal mining.
"We've gone through all the official channels of every level of our state government, we've been to DC, nothing is being done," says Marilyn Mullens, who felt compelled to make a strong public statement – Mullens will shave her hair off in front of supporters and family, in a silent tribute to the 500 mountains, one million acres of forest, thousands of miles of headwater streams and thousands of communities wiped off the map by mountaintop removal coal mining. She hopes many others will do the same.
The idea came to Mullens in a dream, fueled by her frustration about the lack of action to protect Appalachians. Her late-night Facebook posting has inspired hundreds of people to pledge their support and she's received calls from a French documentary filmmaker.
"The shaving of the hair represents standing with our mountains that have been stripped of everything living on them. And in solidarity with our people, who are sick and dying and dead because of this practice. I want it to be silent, because silence can be deafening. Silence is louder than words. We 've talked. We've talked and talked and talked, but it hasn't gotten us where we need to be with this issue," explains Mullens.
"You have air pollution, water pollution, the destruction of so many living things – it's a bigger deal than people think, I mean they are actually destroying a culture of people. It's not what my grandparents would have wanted. And I know, the old coal miners, they don't like it - they think it is horrible… We are the majority but our voices are drowned out by big coal money. It's like they shove their money down our throats. The politicians completely ignore us," says Mullens.
"It is a time for us West Virginians, who live here and care – like the Gov. in Vermont who banned fracking – we need to do that here. Mountaintop removal needs to be stopped."