, Divestment Campaign Coordinator, Energy Action Coalition
In the aftermath of RAMPS' Mountain Mobilization in WV on July 28, the participants in the action and our movement as a whole have been reeling from conflicting feelings. We’ve felt empowerment from our direct action that shut down the largest mine site in West Virginia, the Hobet 21 mine owned by Patriot Coal. We’ve felt anger and betrayal at the police who exercised undue repression and failed to protect our safety during the action. We’ve felt sadness for our comrades who were imprisoned under unjust circumstances, especially for Dustin Steele and others who were brutally beaten while in police custody. We’ve felt joy when the Hobet 20 were finally released from jail yesterday. We’ve felt triumph at successfully confronting and speaking truth to this powerful industry through executing this action.
Most of all, many of us have been conflicted about the community response to our mass mobilization. Although RAMPS facilitated several informative workshops on de-escalation that included role-plays and clearly outlined their mandatory policy of respectful engagement of dialogue with miners and community members, I was personally emotionally unprepared for the level of antagonism we received.
As we mobilized to protest MTR, the industry-funded nonprofit Friends of Coal also mobilized its members to meet us with resistance. Miners and community members lined the road that led protesters away from the mine site, encouraged to shout their angry words by police who let them through checkpoints while blocking RAMPS vehicles that attempted to bring them home to safety. Our caravan was aggressively chased down the highway and folks in my group were pepper sprayed at a gas station. People showed up at our base camp to confront us and blocked the road leading in with fallen trees. These were incredibly stressful experiences that many of us have had to process – the difference is through what lens we are processing these experiences with.
But the reaction from miners and the Friends of Coal is not the real story of the action we took on July 28 at the Hobet Mine.
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