Appalachian Mountains coal company target of protesters

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Saturday, July 9, 2005

A Friday protest in downtown Richmond drew around 200 protesters to Virginia’s state capital to demonstrate against strip mining practices of Massey Energy Company. Demonstrators marched through town and gathered in front of the company’s office building where nearly 20 laid in the street of the city’s main thoroughfare, and were nearly arrested. A few linked arms around a sidewalk structure to avoid being hauled away by police.

Chanting “Blankenship, Blankenship, Blankenship,” and waving bed sheets for flags, the demonstrators demanded to be seen and heard by the Massey Chairman and CEO, Don Blankenship. Arrests for civil disobedience were avoided when two security guards were sent by the company to retrieve a list of their demands.

The demonstration, timed to coincide with Scotland’s G8 conference, was organized by a group called “Mountain Justice Summer” and environmentalists to protest mountain top removal mining techniques. The company’s mining operations are located in the Appalachian Mountain chain in the states of Virginia, West Virginia , Kentucky and Tennessee. Massey is the United States' fourth-largest coal mining operation.

A statement issued by a Massey spokesman defended their respect of people’s rights, and decried what they said was, “a great deal of misinformation.”

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported that unofficial “legal observers” accompanied the demonstrators and carried notebooks to record crowd and police activity.

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