Mamas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Mike Roselle

The greater part of what my neighbors call good I believe in my
soul to be bad, and if I repent of anything, it is very like to be my
good behavior. What demon possessed me that I behaved so well?-Henry
David Thoreau, Walden

He's sitting in the Southern Regional Jail, in Beaver, West Virginia,
on charges of trespassing and obstruction, a $5,000 cash bond riding
above his head, a contempt of court charge, in defiance of a temporary restraining order staring him in the

Sounds like all is going as planned for 55-year-old Kentucky-native
Mike Roselle, the legendary environmental activist.

Occupying the offices of Marfork Coal Company on February 18th,
Roselle and two other activists delivered a warrant for the citizen's arrest of the Massey subsidiary
president in violation of the West Virginia State Code SS61-3E-10 for
"wanton endangerment involving destructive devices, explosive materials
or incendiary devices."

Roselle and his group's mission: To stop the reckless blasting on the Coal River Mountain range,
within a football throw of one of the nation's largest and most
precarious coal slurry impoundments.

In the latest of countless acts of civil disobedience against
mountaintop removal operations launched in the Appalachian coalfields by
his fellow Climate Ground Zero campaigners, Roselle simply upped the
ante on the fate of Coal River Mountain and other historic ranges slated
for destruction by mountaintop removal explosives. Sitting in jail, he
grins with a subversive question for the rest of us:

Are we simply going to sit back in our offices and homes in acts of
good behavior and allow the Obama administration to stammer in
indecision, clearly without a roadmap to end mountaintop removal, as
millions of pounds of ANFO explosives are detonated daily in Appalachia,
including Coal River Mountain, while the largest forced removal of
beseiged American citizens takes place under violation-ridden acts of
assault, thousands of acres of hardwood forests are wiped out, and
American watersheds and waterways are jammed with toxic coal mining

Regardless of what anyone thinks of Mike Roselle's nonviolent
tactics-and his lifetime of controversial agitation-he has
emerged as a clear-eyed abolitionist in an era of regulatory


(photo courtesy of Antrim Caskey, Appalachia Watch)

Sitting in that Southern jail cell like a bon vivant soothsayer, Mike
Roselle is a living testament to one undeniable truth: Mountaintop
removal mining, the most egregious human rights and environmental
violation tolerated in our nation, must be abolished, not regulated.

Truth is, while the rest of us from San Francisco to Phoenix to
Chicago to Orlando to Washington DC enjoy the warmth around the hearth
of our coal-fired electricity-courtesy of coal generated from
mountaintop removal operations or smaller strip mining operations, or
devastating longwall operations-Mike Roselle has chosen to put his life
on the line and force our legal system, and the nation, to determine who
is the real outlaw-nonviolent coalfield residents defending their land
and lives, or Massey Energy, proud holders of a criminal and civil rap sheet that make Roselle look like a Boy

Last spring, in a very
provocative essay,
he turned the mirror on his fellow activists and
asked: "Why is the environmental movement so timid? From Birmingham to
Coal River."

"Here on the Coal River, we are trying to infuse a deeper
meaning to our non-violence. These actions are not media stunts but a
last ditch effort to save the Appalachian Mountains from total
destruction and time is swiftly running out.

If the Massey TRO is successful in crushing our budding rebellion in
West Virginia, then I fear our movement is not going to be successful in
saving what's left of the Appalachian Mountains. However, if we can end
Mountaintop Removal by standing up to Massey and the coal corrupted
West Virginia courts, then we will have learned a valuable lesson about
nonviolence and how to confront the crisis of climate change.

In the end, it will not be the clean energy future that we must
build, as the CCA e-mails continue to urge me to do, but the urgent,
dangerous and dirty energy present that we must confront, and confront
it in here in the strip mines of West Virginia, where the rule of law
has been denied to both the people and the land for too long. Only the
harsh light of non-violent confrontation will illuminate the dark
hollows of Appalachia, and bring in justice, our one and only request."

Says Vernon Haltom, a resident in the Coal River Valley: "Mike
Roselle is a catalyst who inspires bold action, and bold action is
what's needed in the struggle to protect our homes and communities from
corporate criminals such as Massey Energy. The appeasement and half
measures taken by state and federal regulators do nothing to deter
chronic lawbreakers like Massey, so citizens must fulfill the role that
regulators refuse.

Says Scott Parkin, from the Rainforest Action Network, which Roselle
co-founded, among his many other ventures: "For the past four decades,
Mike Roselle has put his life and liberty on
the line to prevent environmental destruction and his work to end the
devastating practice of mountaintop removal has had significant

Meanwhile, Mike Roselle sits in the Southern Regional jail cell.

Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to me Mike Roselle-we just might
end mountaintop removal if that ever happened.

And the illegal and dangerous blasting on Coal River Mountain, courtesy of Massey Energy

To support Roselle or contribute to his legal defense fund, go to Climate Ground

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