DANIEL BELCHERFOR THE COAL VALLEY NEWS
August 1, 2012
On Saturday, July 28, at 8 a.m., hundreds of miners, their families, and local elected officials met at the Magic Mart parking lot and organized a counter-protest to the RAMPS group (Radical Action for Mountain People’s Survival).
Local television reporters were there and interviewed Joshua Nelson, a Candidate for House of Delegates in district 23, who is himself a local coal miner, and some of the others in the crowd. That interview aired on the 11:00 news that evening.
Roger Horton from the group “Citizens for Coal” started the rally with introducing some of the participants. He first introduced Joshua Nelson who gave a short “pep talk” and the crowd roared with support for our local coal jobs.
He said, “Long ago, we fought the Battle of Blair Mountain, and now the “War on Coal” is coming from a different front, but we as Mountaineers cannot let out of state Intruders ruin our way of life”.
Delegate Rupie Philips Jr. was the next to speak.
He stated that politicians like President Obama, and people like Senator Jay Rockefeller, who have both openly come out against traditional use of coal, need to go.
State Senator Art Kirkendoll also spoke to the crowd and showed his support for our local coal miner’s jobs. The group was diverse with Union members and Non-Union miners as well as people from different political parties and all walks of life.
Dennis Adkins, a well known local coal supporter and member of “Citizens for Coal”, spoke and said, “This is not a Union or Non-Union issue; this is a Boone County issue. It has nothing to do with political parties, but simply what is right. These people are domestic terrorist, and we need to stay organized to stand against them.”
He also said that all of our citizens need to get involved in groups like “Citizens for Coal”. After they met at Magic Mart the left and went to the Kanawha State Forest where RAMPS protestors were camping and voiced their pro-coal opinion at that site.
As they traveled to the forest, a large line of trucks lining from Racine all the way to Foster could be seen filled with supporter’s vehicles. The large pro-coal crowd hiked over a mountain; a lot of them in “Matterhorn” boots.
The police arrested several people throughout the day. The pro-coal group left Kanawha State Forest and went to the Hobet mine to help spot the protestors and to inform the police.
Several protestors were arrested, prosecuted, and received a $25,000 dollar bail a piece. So far RAMPS has only raised enough money to reach half of the money required to bail out just one protestor. The pro-coal group vowed to continue to fight for coal, until their jobs were safe.
None of the pro-coal supporters were arrested and it was a peaceful counter-protest to the RAMPS group.