Early Monday morning, employees at Massey Energy’s gaudy regional headquarters on Corridor G (rt. 119) in Boone County, West Virginia, found that EmmaKate Martin, 18 and Ben Bryant, 23, both currently of Rock Creek, West Virginia, had blockaded the company driveway.
Martin was perched 30 feet above the ground on a small platform that hung from the intersection of three saplings constructed into a tripod. Bryant was locked to one leg of the tripod below, on the shiny new asphalt. They were arrested by Boone County officials and charged with trespass, conspiracy, obstruction and littering.
The two young people are in a holding tank at Southwestern Regional Jail in Logan County, West Virgina, according to the Boone County Magistrate Snodgrass who set their bail.
At $100,000 a piece. One hundred thousand dollars .
Martin and Bryant are involved with Climate Ground Zero’s pressure campaign to abolish mountaintop removal coal mining. They volunteer full time at Climate Ground Zero headquarters in Rock Creek, West Virginia, a beautiful community in the Coal River Valley that is trying to shake Massey Energy like a disease. Recently the community has had some great news, but the fight to get rid of parasitic coal mine companies like Massey is far from over.
Magistrate Snodgrass, when this reporter spoke with him this afternoon, told me,
“ Here you are talking about people who want to save trees, but they cut trees down. I’m sure they didn’t own the trees. There might be additional charges for cutting the trees down…”
Snodgrass is referring to the tripod of saplings that the activists used to blockade Massey Energy’s driveway, the day before the company will hold its annual shareholders meeting, this year at company headquarters in Richmond, Virginia. There are large protest demonstrations planned for Richmond tomorrow as well; even the United Mine Workers of America will have a promised large presence.
Are things changing in Appalachia? Do too many people know the truth about coal. Stay tuned for testimony from Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship and Cecil Roberts, President of the United Mine Workers of America, both of whom will testify in front of the Senate Appropriations Sub-Committee this Thursday, 20 May at 2pm.
When asked if this high bail was normal, Magistrate Snodgrass said, “it’s at my discretion. When you put the Fire Department out of work , when you put thousands of dollars of equipment and man hours, then this [the high bail] is normal,” Magistrate Snodgrass stated.
As reported by Climate Ground Zero, a fire truck indeed was dispatched to the scene.
EmmaKate and Ben are in holding at Southwestern Regional Jail, a site often touted by the coal industry as being one of the wonderful post-mined land use projects in the region.
To Donate towards bail, go to www.climategroundzero.net