Stand with Poisoned Inmates

Graphic by Adam Peck via Think Progress.

This is climate injustice.

In January, thousands of gallons of the toxic coal cleaning chemicals contaminated the drinking supply for 300,000 people and hundreds of inmates at the South Central Regional Jail (SCRJ) in Charleston, WV, were deprived of access to enough safe water.

Many inmates suffered from illness and injury from dehydration or chemical exposure. Some even faced violence and legal repercussions for seeking medical help and for asking for clean water to drink. You can hold SCRJ accountable and ensure the basic human rights for inmates if you speak out right now!

Click here to demand basic human rights and safe water access for inmates at West Virginia’s South Central Regional Jail.

Our allies with West Virginia Water Hub and Radical Action for Mountain People’s Survival (RAMPS) met and corresponded with more than 50 inmates, and based on their stories, it’s clear that this failed crisis response is just the latest example in a larger pattern of abuse, violence, and negligence by the jail’s staff and administration.

WV Water Hub and RAMPS are amplifying the voices of inmates and exposing this horrendous abuse in order to force a response from prison authorities.

Add your voice: sign RAMPS’ petition to demand basic human rights for inmates in coal country.

RAMPS has stated that they are acting “in solidarity with broader movements of resistance to the growing prison state and poisonous extractive industries.” Combined, the systems of state repression and fossil fuel industry profit are creating a perpetual crisis. Like RAMPS, our movements must respond in kind and directly confront fossil fuel expansion, challenge the political power of that system, and act in solidarity with those facing the brunt of the crisis.

That is climate justice.

No Business as Usual at Alpha Headquarters

flagReposted from the RAMPS Campaign

June 20, 2014 — Bristol, VA. Three activists with Mountain Justice and Radical Action for Mountains and People’s Survival (RAMPS) are currently stopping business as usual at Alpha Natural Resources headquarters in Bristol, VA, in protest of Alpha’s devastating practices of mountaintop removal coal mining. Activists were protesting the opening of new mines on Coal River Mountain in southern West Virginia. Two protestors are locked in front of the front doors of the office, while a third is hanging from a flag pole displaying a banner that reads “Save Coal River Mountain”

“That mountain is the mountain I learned to hunt on, it’s the mountain that’s sustained my family for generations. I’ll be a dead man before I see them take what’s left up there,” said
Junior Walk, of West Virginia. Walk lives in the Coal River Valley, directly below Alpha operations on Coal River Mountain. Alpha recently began blasting on the 264 acre Collins Fork mine. Local residents and activists have opposed surface mining on Coal River Mountain since the late 1990s.

2014-06-20 06.25.05-2“I am here today to demand an end to Alpha’s role in the destruction of Appalachia. While coal is exported and profits leave the region, the health effects remain in the communities,” said Camilo Pereira, one of the protestors blocking the office. Two of the protesters in a lockbox at the front door of Alpha’s headquarters and blocked the entrance.

While coal production has decreased nationwide in the past years, coal exports are at an all-time high. The overwhelming majority of coal extracted from Coal River Mountain is metallurgical coal used primarily to produce steel and is likely bound for export markets. Adam Hall, of Glen Daniel, WV, said, “As a country, we have made great strides against the dangers of coal fired power plants. However, new emission regulations will not stop Alpha from blowing up Coal River Mountain and endangering my home and family.”

More than 20 peer-reviewed studies demonstrate a connection between mountaintop removal coal mining operations and increased cases of lung and heart diseases, as well as increased birth defects, early mortality, and depression.

The RAMPS Campaign’s ongoing work against Alpha Natural Resources demands an end to Alpha’s mountaintop removal practices in Appalachia. Furthermore, RAMPS urges the company to re-employ miners for effective and thorough reclamation of retired and abandoned mine sites.

Photos of today’s protest can be found here when available.

Mountain Justice is a regional and national network that has worked for 10 years to support community based, grassroots efforts to end Mountaintop Removal and build a brighter future in Appalachia.

Eleven Arrested At Peabody Coal’s Annual Shareholder Meeting


peabody AGM11 Activists Arrested At Peabody Coal’s Annual Shareholder Meeting in Clayton

Community members from St. Louis, Black Mesa, and Rocky Branch Unite to Hold Peabody Accountable for Destroying Communities  

ST. LOUIS–Today, for the second time in less than a week, activists were arrested at a Peabody Coal demonstration. 75 people rallied at Peabody’s annual shareholder meeting at the Ritz Carlton in Clayton. Members of the local Take Back St. Louis campaign were joined by Dineh (Navajo) Peabody resisters from Black Mesa and residents from Rocky Branch, Illinois who are currently fighting Peabody’s mine expansion there.

Representatives from Take Back St. Louis, Justice for Rocky Branch, and Tonizhoni Ani had bought shares of Peabody in order to attend the shareholder meeting and voice their concerns to CEO Greg Boyce, but were not allowed into the main meeting room with Peabody executives. When they were placed in an “overflow room,” they walked out of the meeting. The entire rally then marched to the entrance of the Ritz Carlton to deliver a letter outlining the group’s demands to Greg Boyce. Eight people were arrested while trying to enter the Ritz Carlton to deliver the letter. Two other people were arrested attempting to enter the shareholder meeting from the overflow room.

Today’s protest comes less than a week after Wash U Students Against Peabody’s 17 day sit-in ended when seven students were arrested trying to enter their Board of Trustees meeting to encourage Peabody CEO Greg Boyce to resign from the University’s Board of Trustees.

“I am here today to continue to spread the message that the Wash U Students Against Peabody started spreading with their actions over the past weeks,“ said Marshall Johnson, Black Mesa Resident and member of Tonizhoni Ani. “We need to stand up to Peabody on Black Mesa and here in St. Louis so our children and grandchildren and all future generations can have clean water and clean air. I am grateful to Wash U students for standing up for a respectful future for us all.”

Recently, Peabody has been engaging in unprecedented attempts to undermine St. Louis’ local democracy. In late March, Peabody sued to keep the citizen-driven Take Back St. Louis initiative off the ballot and away from voters. The ballot initiative would stop the city’s policy of giving Peabody and other big corporations large tax breaks. Now, in the past few days, Peabody’s lobbyists and Mayor Slay’s lobbyists have inserted amendments into Missouri Senate Bill 672 that would ban the city of St. Louis from “by ballot measure impos[ing] any restriction on any public financial incentive authorized by statute.” The amendment is a blow to local control, stripping the city of the ability to determine its own tax regulation.

“The ballot initiative process exists so that we as city residents can bring our concerns to our government and other city residents. Peabody Coal and Mayor Slay are blatantly attempting to subvert our local democratic process,” said Joretta Wilson, member of the Take Back St. Louis campaign. “We collected 22,000 signatures to put the Take Back St. Louis ballot initiative on the ballot, and now Peabody and Slay’s lobbyists are trying to make the initiative illegal before St. Louis residents even get a chance to vote on the initiative.”

Today’s demonstration united the local Take Back St. Louis campaign with communities fighting Peabody across the nation, including Dineh (Navajo) resistors from Big Mountain/Black Mesa in Arizona, and the Justice for Rocky Branch campaign in Southern Illinois. For decades, these communities have experienced Peabody using its financial power to influence democracy and ensure continued profits without concern for human lives, homes, and futures.

“I am here today to ask Mr. Boyce why our homes and our land are being destroyed for Peabody’s bottom line, “ said Judy Kellen, one of the Rocky Branch residents who tried to enter today’s shareholder meeting.  “Peabody is making profits at the expense of our future and the health of future generations.”

This year marks the 40th year of Indigenous resistance by the Diné (Navajo) communities of Big Mountain and Black Mesa, Arizona to forced relocation from ancestral homelands due to Peabody Coal’s massive strip mining. The effects of the relocation meet all the criteria of the UN’s internationally recognized definition of cultural genocide. Diné (Navajo) resistors on Black Mesa are planning a one-week training camp starting May 16th to demand “not one more relocation” of Indigenous people by Peabody. Members of the Take Back St. Louis campaign will be traveling to Black Mesa for the camp, continuing the increased unity amongst groups fighting Peabody across the country.

More information on Take Back St. Louis is available here: www.TakeBackStLouis.com

More information on the Big Mountain Training Camp is available here: Big Mountain Spring Training Camp

Photos are attached. Video available upon request.

Activists are available for interviews all day.

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Protesters Hold UBS Accountable for Funding Mountaintop Removal in Series of Protests

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

11/25/13
Contact: Mathew Louis-Rosenberg
Phone: 304-860-5041
Email: snollygaster@gmail.com

Protesters Hold UBS Accountable for Funding Mountaintop Removal in Series
of Protests

Stamford, CT – Early this morning, three activists hung a huge banner reading “UBS. Stop Funding Mountaintop Removal” off of a crane constructing the 66 Summers St building in downtown Stamford.   Later in the day two activists entered the UBS headquarters in Stamford, locking themselves to a bannister and hanging a banner reading “UBS. Divest from Mountaintop Removal”, while others locked themselves to the outside doors of the building.   The protests are a part of the Hands Off Appalachia, a sustained campaign to get UBS to end all financing of companies conducting mountaintop removal coal mining in Appalachia.

“Over the last two years, I have visited UBS’s offices over 30 times pleading with them to stop the destruction of Appalachian communities. Today, I’m not asking anymore.  I’m demanding an end to UBS’s financing of mountaintop removal.” said Ricki Draper of Knoxville, TN who is locked inside the UBS headquarters.

Mountaintop removal is an extreme form of strip-mining in which coal companies blast up to a thousand feet off the top of a mountain to extract thin seams of coal.  The resulting rubble is often placed in the valley below burying headwater streams.  Over 1 million acres of forest in Central Appalachia have been destroyed and over 2,000 miles of streams have been buried by this practice.  Recent research has linked mountaintop removal to increased rates of cancer, birth defects and cardiovascular disease in communities near these mining operations.  UBS is a top funder of companies that conduct mountaintop removal such as Alpha Natural Resources, Patriot Coal, and Arch Coal.  On Friday, organizers with Hands Off Appalachia met with UBS executives at their office in Stamford to discuss UBS’s existing policy on mountaintop removal.

“[At the meeting] I was ‘reassured’ [by UBS executives] that UBS’s policy on mountaintop removal was sufficient enough to protect my people.  I wholeheartedly disagree.  The reality is that their ‘policy’ is nothing more than an excuse to remove themselves from the truth that as UBS profits, my people suffer,” said Adam Hall of Glen Daniel, W.Va. who blocked the entrance to UBS’s headquarters today.

UBS’s existing policy claims to “recognize the potential environmental, social, and human rights impacts of this industry sector” and take into consideration “concerns of stakeholder groups”, but UBS officials have never traveled to Appalachia to witness the impacts or met with impacted community members until last Friday.  The policy also claims to take into account regulatory compliance, but UBS financed Massey Energy and oversaw their merger with Alpha Natural Resources even after Massey was fined $20 million by the EPA for over 4,600 violations of the Clean Water Act.

Started in Knoxville, TN, the Hands Off Appalachia Campaign has spent two years engaging with UBS about their funding of the destruction of Appalachian through this extreme form of strip mining. HOA has organized dozens of actions and protests at local UBS offices all over Appalachia and the Southeast.

This summer, HOA escalated their campaign against UBS when three organizers blocked the entrance to the Knoxville UBS branch, the point of inception for the campaign. This action was the thirty-third time in sixteen months that campaign organizers had visited that office. On the heels of that action followed a blockade at UBS’ North American Headquarters in Stamford, Connecticut. There, four organizers with Hands Off Appalachia and Capitalism vs. the Climate, a climate justice direct action group based in Connecticut, took a stand against UBS in solidarity with communities in Appalachia. This action launched the northeast leg of our campaign against UBS. Yesterday, activists with the campaign picketed UBS’s Parade Spectacular in Stamford, handing out leaflets and displaying a large banner
reading “UBS Stop Funding Mountaintop Removal.”

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