The coming trend in southern West Virginia as activists turn up the heat on mountaintop removal?
Joseph Hamsher, 22, Sentenced to 20 Days in South West Regional Jail for Lockdown at Massey Regional Headquarters
MADISON, W.Va.-Joseph Hamsher, 22, was sentenced to twenty days in South
West Regional Jail for his participation in a Sept. 9 road blockade at Boone
County’s Massey Energy Regional Headquarters.
He went before Magistrate Charles M. Byrneside at 10:15 a.m. on Oct. 27 for
a pre-trial hearing and plead guilty to conspiracy and trespassing asked to
leave. Three other charges, also misdemeanors, were dropped as part of the
plea agreement: destruction of property, failure to obey a lawful command
and resisting arrest. Hamsher was the first of four protesters and one
independent journalist arrested during the action to receive a pre-trial.
“The disgusting practice of mountaintop removal has to be brought to an end
completely, not just more strictly regulated. I took action so that future
generations of West Virginians can hunt, fish and have a good time in the
mountains,” Hamsher, a native West Virginian and current resident of Rock
Creek, Raleigh County, said.
The sentence was issued with credit for time served, which includes time
spent in jail between Hamsher’s arrest on Sept. 9 and his release on bail on
Sept. 11. Bail was set at $5,000 cash only for the four protesters and at
$3,000 cash only for the journalist, with no ten percent bond option.
Hamsher is the 23rd protester in the Climate Ground Zero campaign to go in
front of Magistrate Byrneside and the first to receive a jail sentence.
“I was told that I received this sentence because a previous defendant,
Mathew Louis-Rosenberg, laughed in the Magistrate’s face when he was given a
fine and because none of those previously fined have paid,” said Hamsher.
None of the fines from the other cases are yet due.
“This is a clear attempt to intimidate activists and discourage future
actions, as well as obviously prejudicial sentencing. When a strip miner
threatened to kill one of our activists and his small child, the miner was
not arrested for over a month and released on a $1000 personal recognizance
bond,” said Louis-Rosenberg, referencing the arrest of Adam Pauley for
disorderly conduct, public intoxication and verbal assault during Mountain
Keepers Festival on Kayford this past July 4, “Joe was set a $5,000
cash-only bail and now faces jail time.”
“I remained calm and respectful throughout my trial, and the fact that he is
using my expression of joy at not finding myself in jail as an excuse to
jail one of my friends is frankly sickening,” Louis-Rosenberg, 26,