April 20 300 people took to the streets of Charlotte, NC to demand that Duke Energy stop the construction of the 800 mw Cliffside coal plant in Rutherford County, NC. After rousing speeches from coalfield residents and local church leaders the crowd marched to Duke Energy’s headquarters. Shouts of “No new coal!” and “Cancel Cliffside” echoed off the skyscrapers of the nations second largest financial center, as the crowd wound its way through the lunch hour traffic.
The protest was a fine example of solidarity in the movement. Folks from Ohio fighting AMP coal plants, Kentuckians resisting mountaintop removal, West Virginians defending Coal River Valley, Virginians fighting Dominions Wise County Coal Plant were all there. Asheville, Boston, Baltimore, and Bay Area Rising Tide were all representing in the streets of Charlotte and played a part in making this a successful action.
Once the march arrived at Duke Energy headquarters we presented CEO Jim Rogers with a letter for him to sign, declaring that he would cancel the Cliffside plant. Unsurprisingly he did not come down. Not content with just going home, 44 people crossed onto Duke Energy’s property to deliver the letter to Rogers. The police gave one warning and then began to make arrests. As protestors were led to police vans the crowd chanted, “Arrest Jim Rogers” and “You can put our friends in jail. But we will drive the final nail.” Those arrested ranged from young college students to 80 year old grandmothers.
This protest is an important and exciting escalation in the fight against Cliffside and for the anti-coal movement as a whole. Lets keep up the good work and continue to extend our solidarity to all communities fighting the fossil fuel industry. We’ll be back in Charlotte on May 7th which is being held at Duke’s headquarters. As one sign at the protest said, “Jim Rogers, we won’t stop until you do!” For updates check out www.stopcliffside.org