Matt Landon deserves a Medal of Honor. He's a modern day Tennessee Volunteer and American hero.
After a billion of gallons of toxic coal sludge broke through the TVA coal ash pond on December 22, he and the United Mountain Defense non-profit organization have worked full-time through the holidays and winter to deliver aid and water, assist the affected residents, collect data and provide professional air and water monitoring. National and international media have relied on Landon's dogged and insightful reporting behind the scenes. Landon has given tours to untold numbers of legal and legislative aides, including Robert C. Tanner, the Majority Senior Investigator for the Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works.
Considering the gross negligence of the TVA, and the whopping $825 million bill for clean up costs, you would think the TVA had enough sense to recognize Landon's and UMD's important role and accept their help.
Instead, the TVA police have not stopped harassing, detaining and arresting Landon and other members of the United Mountain Defense.
Amazingly, Landon was arrested again yesterday for giving a ride home to an elderly disabled Swan Pond resident, Eva Hewitt. The two were returning from the Tennessee Environmental and Conservation public meeting held earlier that day where Eva was one of several community members who spoke at a citizen's press conference about health concerns relating to the TVA disaster. Eva is blind in one eye and does not drive so Matt was returning her to her home on South Swan Pond Road.
Eva said "It's a shame they arrested him when he was just trying to help me out and give me a ride home."
"I feel that arresting me today is just a continuation of the ongoing harassment I have experienced from the TVA police," Landon said. "TVA has tried to prevent United Mountain Defense from conducting independent water testing, deploying independent air monitoring, delivering bottled water to locals and working with the community of Roane County and they have consistently harassed me while doing this work. The citizens of Roane County deserve more from TVA and I do not plan on abandoning them in this time of need. "
Three days ago, two other United Mountain Defense volunteers were detained by cigar-chomping TVA police that would have made Bull Connor, the police scourge of the Civil Rights Movement, proud. The TVA police arrested volunteers for setting up independent air quality monitoring stations. The monitoring program was initiated in response to complaints by local residents of worsening respiratory problems since the disaster and UMD's discovery that TVA's air testing is inadequate.
For the latest updates on the continuing scandal of the TVA coal ash disaster, visit:
Follow Jeff Biggers on Twitter: www.twitter.com/jeffrbiggers