Activists to Spend New Year's in Jail for Flying Anti-Coal Banner

yes coal killing west virginia-banner photo

Photo via Climate Ground Zero

In what could turn out to be a violation of their constitutional rights, 4 climate activists were arrested and taken to jail last Tuesday for trespassing. Specifically, they were charged for hanging up a banner that read "Yes, Coal is Killing West Virginia's Communities" during a peaceful demonstration on October 10th. But the activists have been held in jail for 2 days now on that charge--a charge that is typically handled by a summons by mail, and for which the maximum fine is a scant $100. And it looks like they'll be spending New Year's Eve in jail--for flying a g-rated banner.Brad Johnson from the Wonk Room reports:

According to Climate Ground Zero, the four activists remain in police custody in the Southern Regional Jail in Beaver, WV. They have yet to see a magistrate and have not been informed of their charges, other than trespassing, which, if proven, would result in a maximum one-hundred-dollar fine.

"This is outrageous behavior on the part of the Kanawha County prosecutors." said Climate Ground Zero campaign director Mike Roselle.

"These four people are guilty of nothing. They were simply present during a
demonstration last October and none of them were ever informed at any time that they were trespassing. Usually in this type of case they simply write you a ticket or mail you a summons. To drag them out of their homes and refuse to allow any bail violates their most basic constitutional right to due process."

Looks like some peaceful climate activists will be spending New Year's eve in a jail cell for a 'crime' that should warrant a fine less than some parking tickets. It's simply shameful on the part of the West Virginia state police. And it should go to show how touchy a subject coal is in W. Virginia.

So it's perhaps a poor consolation, but TreeHugger wishes the activists--Mat Louis-Rosenberg, Jacqueline Quimby, Kimberly Ellis and James McGuinness--a good (if not happy at the moment) New Year's. Your work is and will continue to be important in the ongoing effort to find solutions to climate change. Keep it up.

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