So I’m starting to recover, but am no means there yet, from this week’s adventure. On Monday morning I jumped out of a car and ran beneath the foot bridge to Belle Isle on Tredegar Street in Richmond, Va. Wearing a shirt that read “No Coal, No Nukes, Our Future” and bearing the resistance fist of Earth First, I attached my climbing harness and prussucked up my rope, which had been shortly before dropped from above by my wonderful support crew.
Once high enough that no cop or outraged Dominion Employee could pull on my rope, I set up my seat, attached the safety line to my harness, and set up for a long stay as part of this righteous blocade of Dominion’s corporate HQ.
I and the others there on Monday, flying under the banners of Blue Ridge Earth First! and Mountain Justice took this action in protest of Dominion’s plans to build a new coal fired power plant Wise County, Va, and their plans to expand their nuclear facility at North Anna in Louisa County, Va. If you want to talk about the politics of these things, comment here, please. These discussions need to happen
The blocade was by many measures extremely successful. We significantly disrupted the operations of a company who’s actions disrupt the lives of my friends in South West Virginia, and who, if they carry through with their plans for this plant, will shorten the lives of thousands across Virginia and neighboring communities. We spread the message of this struggle far and wide through blogs, newspapers, TV, radio and significant person to person conversations about the role that energy plays in our lives, and that direct action plays in making change in our world.
Read some of the articles linked below to see how we are perceived so far out in the real world. One thing I want to say though has more to do with what I found out about the prison system, and by extension all of babylon, while in a holding cell for 7 hours on monday afternoon.
In the cell, myself and three of the other Tredegar 12, as we have been named by the Richmond Times Dispatch, spoke with the others being held. There were two younger white dudes, an older man who spoke Spanish as his first language, an older black man named Alan, and Antoine, a 30 something African-American from Richmond named. (wanna say that I am uncomfortable using some of these terms like black and African-American, for reasons that are difficult to articulate). These are men that, while not the cleanest or most “responsible” folks, to themselves or to those who depend on them, have had their crimes compounded again and again by their skin color, by their circumstances, and the most by a system which claims to exist in order to “rehabilitate” the destitute but ultimately holds people down, marginalizes and alienates them, by and by creating an underclass that is disempowered and unable to threaten the hegemonic system designed to ensure the longevity of power centralized and concreted in the hands of elites.
These are people. Humans. With love, and light and compassion, and darkness and pain too. They messed up once or twice, or more, and they were put down, and put into the system, and then sucked down by it. Days, weeks and months in concrete cubes with cold bars and cold overseerers chip away more and more at their humanness, take them further and further away from the rebuilt, rehabilitated, rehumanized beings that we hope they can become after their crime. The prison system, in short, despite instances where folks are able to come out better for it, systematically creates humans that are less able to improve their circumstances, less able to rise above.
I know folks who have gone through the prison system and come out better for it. I know that hearing the stories of those inside is only hearing one side of a story. But I also know that there are better ways to bring people up and out of life ways that lead to destructive behavior. There are societies and cultures that have existed throughout time that practice restorative justice, and succeed with it. There are cultures who never write down their laws, or their punishments, who never leave their criminals in isolation, who never feed them the lowest quality food, who never put people away, who take from them restoration for their crimes and give to them constructive paths towards bettering their lives. There is a better way.
But all that being said, we talked to these folks, we shared our story, and they commended us. They liked what we are doing, and several of them noted that if gas prices, food prices, and the price of being poor in America keep going up, you’re gonna start seeing the protests shift from mobilized environmentalists to outraged working class people walking hand in hand with outraged activists. Heady times are around the bend, is what that tells me. Better hold onto your butts!
Peace yall. Remember, the Tredegar 12 are still looking for support, financially and emotionally
WRVA news report, video
Richmond Times-Dispatch news report, video
NBC 12/AP story
Daily Press/AP story
Its Getting Hot in Here Blog
Raising Kaine Blog
The Coalfield Progress
The Richmond Times-Dispatch
Metro Section, p. B1