Activists being held in police custody in Bristol, VA need your support!

This morning, eight activists with Mountain Justice and the RAMPS Campaign were arrested during a protest of Alpha Natural Resources, at their corporate headquarters in Bristol, VA. After a two hour blockade and high-flying redecoration of a flag pole, at least five people supporting the protest were arrested, in addition to the three committing civil disobedience by blocking the corporate office.

Alpha blockade

These eight people are being held by the Bristol Police, and we’re awaiting details of their condition, charges and bail amounts. We ask you to support the movement to end mountaintop removal, and to help save the few unblasted mountains left in our region, by donating to the Mountain Justice Legal Defense fund in support of today’s action.

Mountain Justice has worked for 10 years to support a diversity of tactics in the effort to stop the destruction of Appalachian communities, from petition drives to non-violent direct action. The MJ Legal Defense fund has, and will continue to offer support to anyone who’s freedom is put on the line in defense of mountains. This Fund is wholly supported by individual donations from people that know that every action can move the needle a little bit, and keeps us on the path to an end of mountaintop removal.

We wont stop until you do

Activists Blocking Bristol Offices of Alpha Natural Resources

Update, 10:45 AM.

Eight Activists Arrested In Blockade of Alpha Natural Resources Corporate HQ

Three activists, demanding an end to mountaintop removal, block entrance to corporate office, stop business as usual, hang banner from flag pol

June 20, 2014 — Bristol, VA. Eight activists are currently in custody in Bristol after a two hours long blockade of Alpha’s HQ in Bristol, VA.  Two activists with Mountain Justice and Radical Action for Mountains and People’s Survival (RAMPS) spent the morning blocking entrance to the office. One hung with a banner from a flag pole, it read “Save Coal River Mountain” .  RAMPS and Mountain Justice took the action in protest of Alpha’s devastating practices of mountaintop removal coal mining. Specifically, the groups are protesting the opening of new mines on Coal River Mountain in Southern West Virginia.




Activists Blockade Alpha Natural Resources

Three activists demanding an end to mountaintop removal, block entrance to corporate office, stop business as usual.

June 20, 2014 — Bristol, VA. Three activists with Mountain Justice and Radical Action for Mountains and People’s Survival (RAMPS) are currently stopping business as usual at Alpha Natural Resources headquarters in Bristol, VA, in protest of Alpha’s devastating practices of mountaintop removal coal mining. Activists were protesting the opening of new mines on Coal River Mountain in southern West Virginia. Two protestors are locked in front of the front doors of the office, while a third is hanging from a flag pole displaying a banner that reads “Save Coal River Mountain”

“That mountain is the mountain I learned to hunt on, it’s the mountain that’s sustained my family for generations.  I’ll be a dead man before I see them take what’s left up there,” said

Junior Walk, of West Virginia. Walk lives in the Coal River Valley, directly below Alpha operations on Coal River Mountain. Alpha recently began blasting on the 264 acre Collins Fork mine.  Local residents and activists have opposed surface mining on Coal River Mountain since the late 1990s.

“I am here today to demand an end to Alpha’s role in the destruction of Appalachia. While coal is exported and profits leave the region, the health effects remain in the communities,”  said Camilo Pereira, one of the protestors blocking the office. Two of the protesters in a lockbox at the front door of Alpha’s headquarters and blocked the entrance.

While coal production has decreased nationwide in the past years, coal exports are at an all-time high.  The overwhelming majority of coal extracted from Coal River Mountain is metallurgical coal used primarily to produce steel and is likely bound for export markets. Adam Hall, of Glen Daniel, WV, said, “As a country, we have made great strides against the dangers of coal fired power plants. However, new emission regulations will not stop Alpha from blowing up Coal River Mountain and endangering my home and family.”

More than 20 peer-reviewed studies demonstrate a connection between mountaintop removal coal mining operations and increased cases of lung and heart diseases, as well as increased birth defects, early mortality, and depression.


The RAMPS Campaign’s ongoing work against Alpha Natural Resources demands an end to Alpha’s mountaintop removal practices in Appalachia. Furthermore, RAMPS urges the company to re-employ miners for effective and thorough reclamation of retired and abandoned mine sites.
Photos of today’s protest can be found here when available:

Mountain Justice Summer Camp

10th Annual Mountain Justice Summer Camp, June 14-22 2014

At Wileys Last ResortSand bar compressed by Malcolm Wilson
on Pine Mountain near Whitesburg, Kentucky

→ Register Here

→ Directions

From the McDonalds in Whitesburg, head south on US 119 for 4 miles to the top of Pine Mountain.  Start down the mountain, and in the middle of a left-hand curve you will see the driveway for Wileys (with pink famingoes) on your left.  Park in the big gravel lot on the side of the highway.



2014 will be the 10th Annual Mountain Justice Summer Camp and we are excited to announce that we will be back on beautiful Pine Mountain in Kentucky at the wonderful and wacky place called Wileys Last Resort.

Pine Mountain (elev. 2900 ft) is one of the most beautiful and biologically diverse mountains in Appalachia, and it has numerous hiking trails, mountain views, wateralls, rare and endangered plant species, black bears and gorgeous forests.  The mountain laurel will be in bloom during our camp and there is an abundance of wildflowers on the mountain.

Our Mountain Justice Summer camp will feature nine days of workshops, trainings, learning about coal mining and mountaintop removal and Appalachian history and culture.  Our Summer Camp site overlooks a huge mountaintop removal mine on nearby Black Mountain.

Evenings will feature music, films, bonfires and dancing with mountain and traditional Appalachian music

Food is lovingly cooked by our dedicated crew – all meals and tent camping are included in your registration

Sliding scale, no one is turned away for lack of ability to pay

Please pre-register – about 150 people are expected to attend

Please do not bring your dog

You can bring cash or check and register at the gate, but we cannot accept credit cards at the gate


Register Here

MJ Fall Summit, Oct. 25 – 27, WV

Mountain Justice Fall Summit

Friday – Sunday Oct 25-27, 2013

Southern West Virginia

Register Here

Join us in West Virginia for an action-packed
weekend of workshops, trainings and action in the heart of the
Appalachian mountains.    You will learn about Appalachian culture and
history and the long tradition of resistance to strip mining and
mountaintop removal mining.  You will see mountaintop removal from the
top of Kayford Mountain, the beloved homeplace of the famous “Mountain
Keeper,” the late Larry Gibson. 

Larry died protecting his mountain from mountaintop removal – now
it’s up to us to keep defending his home.  At the Mountain Justice Fall
Summit you will meet residents of the Appalachian Mountains and the
Coal River Valley who are fighting to protect them, and the people who
are standing alongside them. 

We will teach you about non-violent civil disobedience and direct
action and how Mountain Justice and allied organizations are using
these tools to directly confront the coal companies who are blowing the
tops off America’s oldest mountains.  Mountain Justice is committed to
peaceful, non-violent resistance to mountaintop removal.

Everyone is welcome to attend.  Students from across America
will be there.  You do not have to be an expert on coal or energy issues
to participate – everyone who agrees to abide by Mountain Justice’s non-violence policy
and Mission Statement is welcome to attend the Mountain Justice Fall
Summit.  You will have the option whether to participate in a direct
action, or in a support role, or not.  There will also be several
opportunities to do community service work on Kayford Mountain and in
the local West Virginia communities impacted by mountaintop removal.

After the Fall Summit, participants will have the option
of remaining in the area for the following week for more in-depth
training, listening projects and other activities.

Registration fee for Mountain Justice Fall Summit
includes all food and activities for the weekend – lodging is tent
camping, so bring your own tent, sleeping bag, water bottle, sleeping
pad, camera, camping chair, warm clothes, etc.  You will need to provide
your own transportation and car-pooling is encouraged.

The Fall Summit begins with a dinner Friday night around 6:00 –
we will have a Youth Panel after dinner, followed by a screening of the
great documentary film about the mountaintop removal resistance movement
“On Coal River.”  There will be workshops all day Saturday, with live
Appalachian and folk music around the campfire Saturday night.  On
Sunday we will visit Kayford Mountain.

Hands Off Appalachia Fall Action Camp, Nov. 19 – 25

Three weeks after the Fall Summit, check out Hands Off Appalachia’s Fall Action Camp in Connecticut [UBS America’s Headquarters] November 19-25.

HOA flyer

The camp will build organizing capacity and leadership skills among anti-extraction activists in the northeast. After all the hard work and learning, we’ll put our new skills into practice with a culminating action!

Expect a week of collaboration and workshops such as:

  • Non-violent direct action training
  • History of Appalachian resistance
  • Art in activism
  • Media training
  • and much more!
Register here:
Support the camp by donating here:

Hands off Appalachia is an urban-based campaign that targets the funding of mountaintop removal.

4 who blocked Alpha/Massey HQ sentenced to jail

Four RAMPS and Mountain Justice folks took a plea deal today from the May 24 blockade of Alpha Natural Resources/Massey’s headquarters near Bristol, Tenn.  A video from the action is here.

Emily Gillespie, Junior Walk, Jocelyn Sawyer and Andy pleaded to blocking a roadway in exchange for the prosecutor dropping obstruction of justice.  Each was sentenced to five days in jail plus a $100 fine and $116 in court costs.  Additionally, the entire group was ordered to pay $3,328.77 in restitution to the city of Bristol.

Plea deal, dropped one charge and pleaded to obstruction of a public road or something like that.  Obstruction of justice was dropped.  Plea agreement was 5 days in jail (10 days, but way this jail is you only do half-sentence if on good behavior).  Restitution to Bristol is $3,328.77, from the group as a whole.  Each of them have $100 fine plus $116 court costs.

More information will be out soon so check back over the next day or so.

This action happened earlier in the same day as a Hands Off Appalachia action that targeted UBS Wealth Management, a large financier of strip mining.

This Mountain Justice post summarized the events of the day.

Appalachia Rocks the House in Knoxville and Bristol Today; 7 of 8 Arrested Released!

BRISTOL, VA. and KNOXVILLE, TENN. — Two protests in two states targeted different parts of coal strip mining today. Five Mountain Justice and RAMPS activists, including West Virginian Junior Walk and Kentuckian Emily
Gillespie, shut down the entrance to Alpha Natural Resources’
headquarters this morning with a 250-gallon water buffalo, full of dirty
water and converted to a lockbox, as well as a concrete-filled
55-gallon drum. Another three activists with Mountain Justice and Hands Off Appalachia,
including Knoxvillian Ricki Draper and Kentuckian Lou Lepping, locked
themselves to a giant paper maché puppet of a fat cat banker in front of
UBS’ Knoxville office.


“Alpha-Massey has been getting away with poisoning my community’s water and gambling
our lives for profit with their unsafe Brushy Fork sludge impoundment,
so we’re bringing the dirty water to them,” Walk said, “Alpha-Massey has
locked Appalachia to dirty water, backed by the state government of
West Virginia.”


“Mountaintop removal coal mining requires intensive injections of capital
investment. That capital comes at the cost of the people of Appalachia.
I’ve engaged in this non-violent act of protest against UBS’ funding of
mountaintop removal to exhibit our dedication to ending their funding
and support of an industry that is devastating Appalachia and killing
it’s residents.” — Ricki Draper, Hands Off Appalachia! And Knoxville


The Alpha blockade closed the only entrance to Alpha’s office, which police
cleared by almost 10 a.m. All of the Alpha Five were charged with
blocking a roadway and obstruction of justice.


The UBS action took place in downtown Knoxville during the lunch hours, at
the entrance of the 1st Tennessee Building on Gay Street. Police and
first responders eventually cut the chains and utilized “Jaws of Life”
equipment to dismantle the protest. All three were charged with criminal trespass and resisting arrest and were released by late Friday afternoon on $500.


“These protests will continue to escalate until Appalachian communities are no
longer made to sacrifice their health and identities to provide toxic
coal to America and its importers, and until banks stop funding these
exploitative practices,” said Gillespie.


Jocelyn Sawyer, one of the people who blockaded the Alpha HQ, was released this
Friday afternoon on $5,000 bail while Gillespie, Andy and Walk were
released on personal recognizance. Baghdadi remains in jail on $5,000


  • Click here to donate to the Mountain Justice Legal Defense Fund.
  • Click here to donate to the RAMPS General Fund
  • Click here to donate to the Mountain Justice General Fund
  • Click here to donate to Hands Off Appalachia! Support Fund


Lockdown at MTR Financier, UBS, in Knoxville

From our friends at Hands Off Appalachia:


Residents Oppose Mountaintop Removal Financier

UBS Wealth Management targeted by nonviolent protest.

Knoxville, Tennessee May 24th, 2013

This morning, activists associated with Mountain Justice, Radical Action for Mountain Peoples’ Survival (RAMPS), and Hands Off Appalachia! entered the Gay Street branch of UBS wealth management services and refused to leave. Inside the office, three activists locked themselves to a large paper mache puppet depicting an investment banker. The non-violent protest was in opposition to UBS’ funding and supporting of the harmful extractive process known as mountaintop removal coal mining.

“Mountaintop removal coal mining requires intensive injections of capital investment. That capital comes at the cost of the people of Appalachia. I’ve engaged in this non-violent act of protest against UBS’ funding of mountaintop removal to exhibit our dedication to ending their funding and support of an industry that is devastating Appalachia and killing it’s residents.” — Ricki Draper, Hands Off Appalachia! And Knoxville Resident.

UBS provides funding and investment services to Patriot, Arch and James River Coal Companies. Those three companies, operate active strip mines in Kentucky, Virginia and West Virginia.

“I’m sick and tired of seeing my home get blown up for corporate greed – and UBS is bankrolling the blasting of my community. UBS, listen up: My family’s not a profit margin, our mountains aren’t collateral damage, and we want you out of here: Get your hands off of Appalachia,” said West Virginia resident Junior Walk.

Junior Walk was part of protest today targeting Alpha Natural Resources. Walk and several others [confronted] Alpha at their headquarters in Bristol, VA. UBS acted as the financial advisor for Alpha Natural Resources’ acquisition of Massey Energy in 2010, which created the largest mountaintop removal company in the world.

Mountaintop removal coal mining (MTR) is a form of strip mining that was developed in the 1970’s as a method for extracting coal cheaply. Companies use explosives to remove the top layers of soil and rock from a mountain ridge, exposing the seams of coal for easy access. The valley-fills that accompany mountaintop removal are poisoning water supplies, causing cancer and birth defects, devastating local economies, and displacing large segments of Central Appalachian residents.


Hands Off Appalachia! (HOA!) is a Knoxville-based campaign demanding UBS change their official policy and stop funding and supporting companies that engage in mountaintop removal coal mining.

William Isom



Mountain Justice seeks an abolition of MTR and the protection of the cultural and natural heritage of the Appalachian coal fields. This work is done through grassroots organizing, public education, nonviolent civil disobedience and other forms of citizen action.


Radical Action for Mountain Peoples’ Survival (RAMPS) is a non-violent direct action campaign based in the southern coal fields of West Virginia. RAMPS is dedicated to ending all forms of strip mining in America

[email protected]