First they laugh, Now they get ugly

The same Massey workers that undermine good paying union jobs in the coalfields were out in full force today to subvert a rally to stop mountaintop removal and bring sustainable jobs to the Coal River Valley.  The protest was hosted by Coal River Mountain Watch and the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition and was attended by hundreds of social and environmental justice advocates from across the Appalachian region. Even a well known celebrity (Darly Hannah) and world renowned NASA scientist (Jim Hansen) came to bring attention to the massive devastation wreaked by Massey.

In an effort to silence dissent, Massey workers were dispatched in mass to heckle, insult, attack, or otherwise drown out the protesters.

But thanks to determined speakers and the state police, the voices of reason triumphed and galvanized a march from the protest site to the Massey property line.  In my estimation about 500 protesters made the march.  Leading the way were Hannah, Hansen,  and 94 year old ex-Congressman Ken Hechler, all of whom were arrested for the cause. In total, 30 people were arrested.

The most striking feature about the protest was the visceral hate which spewed from  the Massey workers and their wives  and even their children  Goldman award winner Judy Bonds was struck on the head by a worker who was immediately apprehended and charged with battery. One woman held a large sign that said “Hang Tree Huggers.”    When 94 year old Hechler was slow making his way to the stage, Massey men chanted “they lost his wheelchair.”  Speaker Vernom Haltom was drowned out by the refrain “Go Home,”  even though the multi-generation West Virginian lived walking- distance away–a claim that hardly any of the “local” miners could assert.  In another attempt to hush speakers, Massey supporters disconnected the public address equipment.

Luckily, I was out of hearing-distance from most of the vitriole.

The old adage about social justice movements says that first dissenters are laughed at, then repressed, and finally accepted as right. I’m not so sure.  But I do know that something dramatic has changed in the movement to stop mountaintop removal.  No longer are the coal cronies ignoring our pleas.  Stakeholders like Don Blankenship are intimating to their employees that the future of their jobs depends on their ability to stifle the truth. More and more coal minions have come to the internet to spread company produced propaganda. More and more Massey scabs are growing restless.

Several years ago, brave community members started blowing the whistle on Massey’s crimes. The world has finally started to heed their calls.

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12 Responses to “First they laugh, Now they get ugly”

  1. Some of those same Massey miners you mention will also be on buses Thursday allongside U M W A miners headed to Washington for our own protest. Oh and on the subject of visceral hate ,plenty can be heard c omming out of one of your verry own Mr. Bob Kincaid of Head On Radio.

  2. I wish the environmentalists could afford to send everyone on a bus to Washington.

    Money has a way of stacking the deck…

  3. watcher Says:

    Im self -employed and have exelent insurance.

  4. Real West Virginian Says:

    Haltoms not multi-generation West Virginian. He is from Oklahoma. Dont you guys read each other bios. Liar

    http://www.crmw.net/staff_pics.php?staff=Vernon+Haltom

    • Haltom’s parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, etc. lived in West Virginia. He has lived in West Virginia for a very long time. His daughter married a West Virginia and has lived in WV since she was very, very young.

  5. Just what “hate” are you talking about, “watcher?”

    Do you mean the fact that I refer to Mountain Removers as “thugs?” Maybe that’s because the engage in thuggish behavior, as they proved again at MFE Tuesday. Do you mean the fact that I refer to Mountain Removers as “poisoners?” Maybe that’s because poisoning is what they do to Appalachian communities. Perhaps you mean my reference to Mountain Removers as “ignorant.” Ever read most of the comments the Mountain Removers make online?

    Sorry, “watcher.” I don’t do “hate.” I do “facts,” something with which you’re apparently not very intimately familiar. I deplore Mountain Removers’ violence, disparage their threats, loathe their conduct and mock their faux righteousness. Hate, though, I don’t do. Mountain Removers, as I have said on many occasions, are far more to be pitied than despised.

  6. watcher Says:

    Bob stating “you wouldnt piss down our throats if our if our stomach was on fire” ring a bell? Climate Ground Zero 6/24/09.

  7. ezlnwv —

    Have you seen this article? I think you might find it worthwhile even though it’s not specifically about MTR mining.

    James Hansen on curbing coal emissions: http://hectocotylus.blogspot.com/2009/06/catastrophist-by-elizabeth-kolbert.html

    • Thanks for sharing this.

      To continue relying on coal is to sign our planet’s death warrant. But American policy has always favored the short-sighted get rich quick schemes: whether it be invading Iraq, polluting the air and water, incorporating banks, etc.

      Here is a message from Hansen specifically related to mtr. I should have included this in the original post.
      http://e360.yale.edu/content/feature.msp?id=2168

  8. DAVID D LONG Says:

    WHO PAYS FOR ALL OF THE OUT OF STATE PROTESTORS THAT ARE HERE DISRUPTING A FULLY OPERATONAL SURFACE MINE BY CLIMBING ON EQUIPMENT? WHO PAYS THEIR FINES?

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