More Pictures below, and HD available upon request. Contact: Kim Ellis, (310) 560-2915 or Erin Mckelvy, (540) 808-6221
10:15 AM – Five activists arrested and taken away in association with the banner hang this morning. Waiting to hear their charges. Two fire trucks responded to the scene and have removed the banner.
Banner Suspended Above Downtown Roanoke, Calls On Billionaire To Clean Up His Act
National groups call on Jim Justice to pay for his plunder
Roanoke, VA – Early this morning members of Mountain Justice, Rising Tide North America and Radical Action for Mountain and People’s Survival (RAMPS) hung a banner, suspended between two downtown buildings on Jefferson street in Roanoke. The groups are acting in support of community demands in Virginia, Kentucky, West Virginia and Tennessee that billionaire coal baron Jim Justice stop poisoning water, exposing communities to devastating mountaintop removal coal mining operations and leaving central Appalachia a public health disaster. The banner reads; “Jim Justice Profits, Appalachia Pays.” and “Jim Justice, Toxic Spill Billionaire”.
The activists hanging the banner are with Mountain Justice, a regional group committed to an end of Mountaintop Removal and a just economic transition for Appalachia. They are joined by RAMPS, based in West Virginia, and Rising Tide North America, an international network of grassroots groups focused on stopping climate change.
Erin Mckelvy, of Lee County Virginia and a member of Mountain Justice spoke to reporters on the scene, “ There’s a lot of people out of work across the coalfields today, in part because of the bad business planning done by people like Jim Justice. Justice has the means to properly clean up these sites, and we think Justice’s part in destroying Appalachia’s mountains needs to end yesterday. How much more does one person need? Appalachia needs a new path forward, and Jim Justice should join us, or get out of the way.”
D. Steele, with RAMPS in West Virginia said: “I’m taking this action today to keep the bright light shining on Jim Justice and the ways that his coal mining operations hurt communities. From damaged house foundations to poisoned streams, violated permits to unpaid workers, billionaire coal operator Jim Justice is making millions from the exploitation of Appalachia’s people, forests, and mountains. He needs to clean up his act now, and commit to giving back to the communities that have given him so much.”
Today’s action comes after weeks of bad news for the Justice Group and Roanoke-based Southern Coal. From $9.9 million in new bonding fees, and fines of over a million dollars in Kentucky, to cessation orders in Tennessee and bond forfeitures in Virginia, Justice’s corner-cutting practices across the region show that community concerns are grounded in reality. Mountain Justice and allies call on people to support the groups most impacted by Jim Justice, like the Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards in Virginia, in their push to hold the billionaire responsible for the damage he’s caused.
Today’s action is part of a long tradition of non-violent civil disobedience addressing social justice and environmental issues. Like in the civil rights era and movements to stop the destruction of forests, oceans and the climate, regulatory and political solutions to stopping mountaintop removal have proven ineffective and people working to stop the destruction of Appalachia’s Mountains have taken the next logical step in confronting coal barons like Jim Justice.
Mountain Justice is a regional Appalachian network committed to ending mountaintop removal.
Radical Action Mountain People’s Survival (RAMPS) is a direct action group working to stop mountaintop removal in southern West Virginia
Rising Tide North America is an all-volunteer climate justice network working to confront the root causes of climate change.