THE BLOG
08/13/2013 06:49 pm ET | Updated Oct 13, 2013

Virginia Court System Slams Activists With Restitution

In May, I was one of five arrested during the Alpha Natural Resources bridge blockade. I had to spend a stint of time in the Bristol, Va., city jail. I was involved in this blockade because Alpha has a sludge dam not a mile from where I'm sitting and writing this right now at my parents' house -- the largest earthen dam in the western hemisphere in fact, holding back over 7 billion gallons of toxic waste. For taking a stand against this injustice, we were all charged with blocking a public road (even though the only building on this road is the Alpha HQ) and obstruction of justice. The obstruction charge was dropped, but we were still stuck with the charge of blocking a public road, which is a misdemeanor. We now owe the city of Bristol 3,500 dollars in restitution, and if we don't get it paid we could face 80 more days in jail.

Other than that things have been fairly normal here on Coal River with our day-to-day. The steady stream of visiting groups, college students, activists, and passersby continues, I take them to the mine sites and tell the story of oppression and extraction. I also help take care of our many chickens, goats, and interns.

All the while I'm still helping the RAMPS campaign in doing and planning direct action. I don't plan on slacking off on any aspect of this work until we've won, because it's all important. Whether you're doing a tree sit, helping to cook for activists, doing litigation or legislation work, or helping out financially it's all equally important.

Our lock down helped to spark this summer of action, so I would ask anyone, if you support people taking direct action to better their communities, to learn more about our restitution. We're not done yet either; people all over this country have taken a stand against extraction this summer, and I have a feeling we haven't seen all of the actions for this summer just yet.