Climate Ground Zero Activist Sentenced to 60 Days

posted by scott parkin

Last Thursday, Jacqueline Quimby got 60 days for blocking a Massey haul road back in Oct (see below.)

You’d think the criminal justice system in West Virginia would have better things to do (something like investigating criminal safety violations by outlaw coal companies) than seeking retribution against non-violent protesters for standing up to their corrupt legal system.

Activist Sentenced to 60 Days; Three Contempt Charges for Roselle

Kanawha County Magistrate Tim Halloran sentenced Jacqueline Quimby to 60 days in jail after a jury found her guilty of trespass, conspiracy and obstruction on Thursday, April 22. This sentence is nearly three times longer than the longest of the campaign so far. This was two days after Raleigh County Circuit Court Judge Robert Burnside, Jr., found Climate Ground Zero co-founder Mike Roselle in contempt of court for violating a June 2009 preliminary injunction for his part in the Feb. 18, Marfork Mining Office occupation, while his two companions were both acquitted of contempt.

“Once again the West Virginia judicial system is stepping up its pressure to discourage people from taking nonviolent direct action to shut down criminal mining practices. This campaign has not been stopped by jail sentences or injunctions, and we will not stop until mountaintop removal ends,” said Roselle.

Massey claimed and the court agreed that Roselle broke the civil injunction which added civil penalties for breaking trespassing laws against and interfering with the business of Massey Energy on its subsidiary properties of Alex Energy, Marfork Mining Co., Goals Coal Co. and Performance Coal Co. Roselle was also found guilty of recruiting both Hamsher and Smyth for the Marfork occupation. Roselle was assessed a $3,000 fine payable to Massey for his three counts of civil contempt.

Quimby and seven others blocked a haul road for four hours (here, here and here) last October on the Ed Coal strip mine in the Cabin Creek area of eastern Kanawha County. None of the other seven people received jail time and all took plea deals before going to trial. Jonathan Irwin, Maureen Farrell, Andrea Lai, Erika Zarowin, Ryan Olander, Will Wickham and Alex Lotorto are all serving two years of unsupervised probation.

Quimby was a first time offender with no criminal record and no previous arrests. She took the stand at her trial to explain that she had taken because of the damage done to communities and drinking water across West Virginia. Quimby volunteers full time with the Sludge Safety Project working with communities with contaminated water.

“Because of irresponsible mining, people all over West Virginia are drinking contaminated water and suffering serious health effects. People are dying. When the regulators and the courts and the lawmakers refuse to do anything to protect people, something more has to be done,” said Quimby.

The Kanawha County Prosecutor was rude and derisive throughout the trial, claiming that Quimby was trying to get her “merit badge” and belittling the seriousness of the issues raised in the trial. He even had the audacity to claim during sentencing that “giving community service would be like giving me money.”
In issuing his ruling, Mag. Halloran said that throughout the trial he was thinking about how much money this action must have cost the coal company, leading him to conclude that serious jail time was necessary.

Quimby was, however, found not guilty of a trespassing charge stemming from the October Senior Citizens March to End Mountaintop Removal.

Quimby will be excited to receive mail, at the link below this post. Assume all your mail will be read by the jail. Climate Ground Zero is also accepting donations through their website for Quimby’s commissary and other legal expenses.