Sunday, July 29th, 2012
“The government has aided and abetted the coal industry in evading environmental and mine safety regulations. We are here today to demand that the government and coal industry end strip mining, repay their debt to Appalachia, and secure a just transition for this region.” — Dustin Steele of Matewan, West Virginia.
Following yesterday’s historic shutdown of the Hobet mine — Appalachia’s largest mountaintop removal site– Dustin and at least nineteen other Appalachians and allies are being held on $25,000 bail each — a combined $500,000.* Most are being charged with trespass and obstruction.
While we believe that these bail amounts are unconstitutionally excessive and may ultimately be reduced, we need to raise as much money as we possibly can to support those brave individuals who have put their bodies on the line to put a halt to the injustice of mountaintop removal mining. According to Dustin, he was taken into a room and beaten by law enforcement while in custody. Witnesses have reported that other protesters were brutalized by law enforcement while being taken into custody. We need to work to ensure that anyone who wants to get out of jail can do so as soon as possible.
Mountaintop removal is a crime against humanity that has left a legacy of poisoned air and water, high cancer rates, economic exploitation, and devastated communities and ecosystems throughout Appalachia. Corrupted legislators and regulators at the state and federal levels have failed to take action to stop these atrocities, leaving direct action as the last resort for conscientious residents aiming to save the land and people of Appalachia.
Please check www.rampscampaign.org for updates as we receive additional information about our friends in custody.
Stand with the Hobet 20 by donating to the Mountain Justice legal fund — click here.
Please share the following fundraising link via email, facebook, twitter, and other networks: http://bit.ly/mj-legal
To see more images from yesterday’s historic action, click here.
*We were able to verify bail amounts of $25,000 for seventeen of our arrested friends and assume it is the same for the remaining three.
Last summer Catherine Ann MacDougal took to the trees to shut down a mountaintop removal coal mining operation in West Virginia. She lived in a tree for 30 days on the mine site, preventing Alpha Natural Resources from blasting the mountain. Today she was sentenced to 7 days in jail.
From the RAMPS campaign:
Today Catherine Ann went to Magistrate court in Beckley, WV and plead no contest to trespassing charges related to last summer’s tree sit. As a result she was required to report within an hour of the deal to Southern Regional jail where she is now serving seven days and she owes court costs of $160. The conspiracy charges related to the summer action were dropped. Before we left her at the jail, she was in good spirits as she enjoyed some tasty vegan treats and a few laughs with friends. She certainly could use your support over the next week, you can write to her at:
Catherine Ann MacDougal
Southern Regional Jail
1200 Airport Road
Beaver, WV 25813
She is also asking folks to consider donating to the legal fund if they would like to support her financially.
Before entering the jail Catherine Ann left us with the following statement:
I am prepared to go to jail today; when I decided to climb that oak tree, I knew that I could go to jail for much longer than this. I chose to plead no contest because I wanted to be sure that I could continue to organize during the next few months and because I am not willing or able to pay thousands of dollars to the courts for a trial. This experience has really opened my eyes to the glaring injustice embedded in the United States criminal justice system.
A “right” to a jury trial doesn’t mean much if we are intimidated into pleading guilty and penalized for taking a case to trial. The right to a jury trial doesn’t mean very much if we have to pay for every juror and face fees that are prohibitive for those of us who don’t have a lot of money. The right to a jury trial also doesn’t mean much if I know that I won’t be able to adequately present my own defense, and that the jury will be made to feel as if it has no other option than to convict me.
What is happening today is not a loss for the movement. I will be out of jail in seven days, and this experience has only strengthened my conviction to work to stop mountaintop removal. Thank you all so much for your support.
Posted in Uncategorized
Tagged arrest, civil disobedience, coal, dirty energy, ecodefense, legal money, legal support, mountain top removal, ramps campaign, tree sitter, treesit, west virginia