Direct action is not as glamorous as many would have you believe. Days, weeks, or years in jail or prison is not easy. But fighting to save precious land and communities is damned motivating.
Coal River Mountain tree-sitter Catherine-Ann has just been sentenced to seven days in a West Virginia regional jail.
She stood up to King Coal to defend mountains and stop mountaintop removal.
Last summer, along with Becks Collins, Catherine-Anne sat in the tree to stop the blasting for a month before coming down. Their banners read “Stop Strip Mining” and “For Judy Bonds.” Judy Bonds was a West Virginia native and Goldman Prize winner who fought mountaintop removal until her death in Jan. 2011.
Alpha Natural Resources, who acquired the notorious Massey Energy in a takeover last year, found the pair of tree-sitters near the Bee Tree mine site on Coal River Mountain and tried to deal with the sitters more civilly than Massey had. While Alpha didn’t use sound and light harassment techniques seen in previous years, they have filed civil suits against the sitters and the support team.
Month-long tree sit. Jail time. Lawsuits. Quite the price in physical, emotional, mental and financial capital. So this begs the same question I’ve been asking for years now: “How far would you go to save a place you love?”
My friend Tim DeChristopher is spending two years in federal prison after successfully derailing a land auction attempting to sell off pristine Utah wilderness. A number of comrades in Appalachia have done long periods in West Virginia’s jails for fighting mountaintop removal. I’ve been to jail numerous times (once was a five day stay in a Melbourne Australia jail) for various causes.
The Earth and most of the people on it are under attack by wealthy corporations and the 1%. The motivations aren’t hard to find.
Catherine-Anne is asking for folks to donate to the Radical Action for Mountain Peoples’ Survivial (RAMPS) legal fund.
If you want to write Catherine-Ann a letter, her jail address is below.
Catherine Ann MacDougal
Southern Regional Jail
1200 Airport Road
Beaver, WV 25813