A month ago, non-violent protesters infiltrated an anti-Progress Mines (Massey Energy) Mountaintop Removal site in Western Virginia. Through the early morning, they snaked through desolated terrain, formally beautiful mountains and valleys, reminiscent of a World War I battlefield. A trained group climbed the dragline and put up a Stop Mountaintop Removal sign.
Everyone involved had training in non-violent protest. Everyone involved knew that, no matter their actions, they risked physical harm from angered Massey Energy employees. They knew that they risked arrest for this action. Yet, they went in anyway because they know the harm that Mountaintop Removal is wrecking West Virginia and the devastation that coal is contributing to globally. People willing to sacrifice their safety and their liberty for something larger than themselves merit a simple description: hero.
And, when called, the police quickly arrived and eventually arrested 19 of the protesters. And, the FBI is investigating the incident (hmmm … probably not Massey Energy’s devastating impacts on the area and the planet).
In contrast, at a July 4th picnic with many of locals concerned about Mountain Top Removal went a bit differently than one might expect. The vast majority of those there: local citizens ranging in age from babies in their parents arms to octogenarians proud of the generations of their families there with them. To this event came 20 or so (rather obviously) drunken Massey Energy employees (okay, 20 or so people wearing Massey Energy clothing claiming that they worked for the company) who disrupted the event, cursing, and threatening people’s lives — quite directly. One witness account from jacquesellul.
My wife and I were present at the event and witnessed the? trespass and harassment. The MountainKeepers Festival is a family event with music, food, (no alcohol), and friends hanging out together.
The violent and obscene talk and physical threats certainly were frightening to children and their parents. It should be noted that some of the trespassers tried to prevent overt violence, and that others in the vicinity refrained from coming over.
Intimidation and threats are an ongoing occurrence.
The police arrived — over two hours after they were called. Despite publicly available film evidence of crimes (at minimum drunk and disorderly), there is no sign of impending arrests.
Hmmm … people make a peaceful protest and 19 people are arrested on site. On the other hand, people disrupt a private event, threaten people’s lives, and the “Friend of Coal” Gov. Joe Manchin has ignored the situation so far and the rest of the West Virginia State Government remains starkly silent.
And, the indications are that the potential exists for real, rather than simply threatened, violence to hit this battlefield for the future of West Virginia and the planet. Check out the comment sections to the video of the protest and the video of the picnic.