by Sasha Macko, Student Action Team Program Assistant, Alliance for Climate Education
I don’t know if y’all remember Tim DeChristopher’s epic speech from Powershift last year, but if you were there, I bet that, like me, you remember the power of his words and the flame he ignited in your heart to fight with everything you’ve got. He spoke with such certainty about our ability as a young generation to not only embrace the challenges ahead of us, but to win the fight in our lifetime. He named the innumerable injustices and monumental challenges we face, and made me believe that even then, against incredible odds, people power and love can overcome anything.
He said: “With only the people in this room, we could send 30 people onto a mountaintop removal site, shut it down temporarily, start to clog up the West Virginia court system. And we could send 30 people the day after that and the day after that and the day after that every day for a year. I believe we would never get to the end of that year because mountaintop removal would end before we reached that point.”
Today, hundreds of people are gathering at a strip mine in West Virginia (location not yet disclosed) to do just that, and get the ball rolling to empower hundreds more activists to do the same. The Mountain Mobilization, spearheaded by RAMPS (Radical Action for Mountain People’s Survival), provided direct action training in the days leading up to today’s day of action, and already folks are facing some police confrontation and gathering of counter-protesters. I would love to see the wearepowershift community come together to help spread the word about this amazing mobilization of activists and the hard work that they have put into shutting down the mine. Updates on the action as the day unfolds can be found on the RAMPS facebook page and website or you can follow the campaign on twitter @RAMPSWV.
As many of us at wearepowershift know, risking arrest is an intense, emotional, and empowering experience. As Kristin Moe wrote about earlier this week, risking arrest against mountaintop removal adds another layer of challenges based on the community demographic and fierce opposition from the coal industry, local politicians and law enforcement. This action, and the brave folks involved, could not have come together at a more poignant time. With the 1-year anniversary of Tim’s sentencing passing this week, and preparations being made to once-again take a stand against the Keystone XL pipeline in Texas, this is an exciting time to be alive. Please take a few moments to share these stories of direct action and consider getting involved yourself. This summer is only the beginning of the ruckus and I hope to see many fossil fuel industry shut-downs in the months and years to come!