September 10, 2009

Protesters cited for roadblock at Massey offices

September 9, 2009 By The Associated Press Vicki Smith

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — Four people protesting Massey Energy's mountaintop removal mining practices were arrested Wednesday after linking their arms together with plastic pipe and duct tape, briefly blocking a private road to a coal company office in southern West Virginia.

The Boone County sheriff's department charged the four men, who range in age from 22 to 80, with trespassing, destruction of property, failure to obey lawful command, conspiracy and resisting arrest. They were being held late Wednesday on $5,000 bail each.

The protesters are affiliated with Climate Ground Zero, an environmental group that has been staging acts of civil disobedience against Richmond, Va.-based Massey all year from its base in Rock Creek.

Last week, protesters staged a six-day tree-sitting action that temporary halted blasting operations at the Edwight mine near Pettry Bottom in Raleigh County. Four people were arrested.

The protest Wednesday was on a private road near Julian, off U.S. 119.

Charged were: Roland Micklem, 80, of Savannah, N.Y.; Joseph Hamsher, 22, of Charleston; James McGuinness, 53, who has been living in Rock Creek since last winter; and Fred Williamson, 74, of Albuquerque, N.M.

Climate Ground Zero spokesman Charles Suggs said all four men were committed to protesting without causing property damage. After linking themselves, they used plastic pipes and chain to lock themselves to a guardrail and light post, he said. Authorities used bolt cutters to disconnect them.

A fifth person detained and charged after the protest was described by Climate Ground Zero as an independent videojournalist who goes by the name FluxRostrum. A criminal complaint identified the videographer as Gianni Lapis, 46, of Pensacola, Fla., and charged him with trespassing, conspiracy and failure to obey a lawful command. His bail was set at $3,000.

In a statement, Micklem said the mountains should not be destroyed to make a few people rich, so he is organizing a 25-mile senior citizens' march for Oct. 5.
"This should not be solely a young person's campaign," he said. "Now that they have provided the example and inspiration, we seniors need to make a statement with our own actions and share the risks that are part of this ongoing effort to stop the obliteration of West Virginia's mountains."
Massey did not immediately comment on the latest protest, which comes just two days after a pro-coal rally that Massey helped sponsor.

The Labor Day Friends of America rally on a former strip mine site near Holden in Logan County was designed to oppose climate-change legislation that could affect the coal industry. It drew about 70,000 people, many lured by a free concert featuring Hank Williams Jr. and others.

Massey, which operates mines in West Virginia, Kentucky and Virginia, said the event cost about $1 million.

-thanks to Mary Adams

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