Sometimes in the new era of “hope” and “change,” you almost forget the way things work in the rest of the world. In West Virginia and Indiana, environmental activists using non-violent direct action are facing corrupt legal systems that are misusing existing laws to stop their campaign activities.
In West Virginia today (May 1), 8 activists and 3 journalists are set to appear before a state court to show why should not be held in contempt for violating a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) brought by four Massey Energy subsidiaries. Massey Energy says that the activists engaged in three direct actions since February in the Coal River Valley stopping daily work are a violation of the TRO. Only one of the 11 is actually listed on the TRO and he hasn’t participated in any action since it was served.
The activists contend that the TRO is overly broad as it extends to “all other persons allied, associated, confederating, conspiring, or acting in concert with them.” In other words, it extends to all of us that oppose Massey’s rape of Coal River Mountain.
Massey also wants compensatory damages and all defendants to be jailed until they agree to never violate the TRO again.
Late last week in Indiana, two organizers with Roadblock Earth First! were charged with racketeering (a law used to target the mafia), for allegedly conspiring to engage in tree-sits, civil disobedience and blog posts.
Hugh Farrell and Gina “Tiga” Wertz have been organizing a campaign to halt the expansion of the I-69 NAFTA Superhighway. They were arrested and charged with five charges which could lead to eight years in prison.
On Greenisthenewred.org, Will Potter writes:
“Racketeering laws are intended to combat organized crime, such as the mafia, and include crimes like extortion, bribery and money laundering. Although ambitious prosecutors have tried to use the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) to target anti-abortion activists, animal rights activists, and the Hells Angels, the purpose of the law has always been to go after illegal business activity.”
Now the prosecutors are extending it to Earth First! basically for their beliefs.
In both cases, a corrupt legal system is attempting to mis-use laws to stamp out our dissent.
To be an eco-terrorist now you just gotta flap your jaw
And hey who knows by the time you have a chance to blink
Whether you’re a criminal might depend on what you think
-“Burn It Down” David Rovics