Equal Treatment Under the Law ::wink wink::

Seventeen people were arrested May the 23rd in a series of protests against coal industry abuses. In one of  three direct actions, two protestors paddled a raft into the middle of Massey’s Brushy Fork impoundment and draped a banner, which read “West Virginia Says No More Toxic Sludge,” across the coal black cesspool of sludge. Obviously the protestors were charged with trespassing, but you will never guess with what else they were cited. Read on.


Brushy Fork, like hundreds of other sludge dams in the coalfields, is the coal industry’s response to the Clean Air Act. No longer able to emit as much mercury, sulfure, or arsenic into the air, coal companies now use 200 chemicals and lots and lots of water to extract (most) heavy metals from the coal. The toxic concoction is then pumped behind huge impoundments (one is larger than the Hoover Dam). The once lush hollows are now holding grounds for billions and billions of gallons of sludge.

These earthen dams are inherently unstable (especially considering the blasting allowed near them) and residents living beneath them have reason to be worried. To make matters worse, the companies in charge of them often violate the already lax laws. Sometimes they are given a small fine, but most often they put lives in greater danger with impunity. Ed Wiley, who helped build the dam above Marsh Fork Elementary but is now its most vocal opponent, recounts how leaks were fixed by putting “band aids” over them.

The activists who rowed into the middle of the vast lake did so to sound the alarm about an impending disaster.

For their efforts they were charged with trespassing. And in this Orwellian dystopia we call America, they were charged with littering for draping a banner across the same lake in which King Coal defecates 100 different heavy metals, 200 different chemicals, and coal slurry.  

Such absurdity reminds me of the anti-littering campaign in Logan County. Every few miles along the highways there are huge signs demanding we “Keep Logan County Clean” and warn that the fine for littering can be up to $25,000!  These same roads run next to streams suffocated with acid mine drainage, valley fills, and mountaintop removal sites. Someone even had the audacity to put up these signs along Buffalo Creek Road, which takes the same path as the 20 foot tide of sludge that killed 125 people when a slurry impoundment busted on a dank February morning in 1972.  Today, the predominant traffic on Buffalo Creek Road are coal trucks hauling loads from the strip-mines which now completely surround the hollow. One must wonder if it ever strikes mountaintop removal workers as ironic that they can be fined $25,000 for throwing a Wendy’s cup into the same stream, that just a few miles up the road, they are paid to dump a million tons of mine waste.

For thorough information regarding the all of the protests, including video, more pictures, and updates, visit www.climategroundzero.com.


8 Responses to “Equal Treatment Under the Law ::wink wink::”

  1. watcher Says:

    You failed to mention the other protest where these geniuses chained themselves to equipment that was already idle for the holliday weekend,very bright.

    • I agree that this wasn’t the best time to hold an action.

      In fact, I disagree with Mountain Justice’s concept and application of civil disobedience.

      I sent the following message to Mountain Justice before the events took place.

      Most Americans (and even West Virginians) are against mountaintop removal. Even the President said he was against it. In the 1960s, most Americans were against “separate but equal” and even the President said he was against it.

      In both cases it didn’t make a bit of difference. The fact that African Americans were systematically disenfranchised made many Americans very uneasy. Yet this disapproval did not compel them to act. Groups like the NAACP raised tons of funds and spread the message across the country, yet nothing changed.

      The key to the success of the civil rights movement was that it forced Americans to confront this injustice. It was absolutely relentless in not letting Americans look away.

      Civil disobedience was not an annual occurence. It was every single day. Several activists were arrested over 50 times. And they were beaten, murdered, lost jobs, lost homes, etc.

      I don’t think we should all go to Pettus on one day. This is pretty easy for the American public to ignore. Mountain Justice will lose revenue in legal funds and a few activists will have criminal records for nothing.

      A much better strategy that has proven its success is this: three of us go today, three tomorrow, three the next day, and so on. The persistance to come back each day will bring people out of the woodwork to join.

      As each day goes by, the tension will intensify more and more until the breaking point. Past these points is where real change occurs. America will be on our side. We just have to make them choose.

      Of course, the people in the coalfields have the most to lose at the breaking point so such a campaign must be formulated and led by them. The folks in the coalfields also have the most to gain.

  2. watcher Says:

    ezlnwv You have proven the judges point so clearly in applying the t r o in a broad manner to stop the very strategy you mention. as for the tansion intensifying, sure sounds like a plan to provoke a confrontation , or worse with the everyday presence of ” protesters” a terrible accident.

  3. EZLNWV I think the breaking point you refer to is here with the actions this morning in Twilight W V. I hope these groups responsible have DEEP pockets as I have a feeling the injured miner may well own them!

  4. The “miner” was not injured by the protestors.

    The Massey Scab cockroach was taken to the hospital because he felt lightheaded and had to lay down. Apparently there was a preexisting condition.

    As for violence, there is video of the mountaintop removal scabs trying to shake the protestors off of the tower.

    This is attempted murder.

  5. watcher Says:

    Produce the video.

  6. watcher Says:

    Late, but nevertheless just watched the “edited” version of the video and failled to see any shaking you speak of . Fortunatly Massey has possession of the original video that shows activists climbing “over” Massey workers to gain access to the machine. I watched the early “raw version.

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