Mike Roselle, co-founder of RAN and Earth First!, now works in southern West Virginia with Climate Ground Zero campaigning against coal companies to end mountaintop removal. Last Thursday, he was released after two weeks in a West Virginia jail for sit-in at Massey’s HQ. Here’s his story:
How did they get in here?, Part One.
As the sun came up I was squatting in the brush looking down on our destination. It was snowy and cold, and we had hiked the two and a half miles up the holler and over a ridge, and now we could see the Marfork Coal Company headquarters below at the bottom of a tree covered slope that fell about a thousand feet before ending at the edge of a large parking lot. We saw two workers arrive, both female, and then two men, who all went inside the office to open it up as we had watched them do on earlier occasions. This time, however, as we readied to descend the slope, two of them reappeared in the parking lot with snow shovels and began clearing snow off the helicopter landing pad on the far side of the parking lot. They did this quickly, and after applying salt to the pavement, they hurried inside and all was quiet. Taking the lead, Tom went down carefully picking his way through the snow and underbrush. Joe and I sat down and slid on our asses, which was a quicker if less dignified and soon we were on the steps leading into the lobby of Marfork’s main office, a fortress protected by a bridge over the river, a guard shack and several layers of chain link and barbwire.
Once through the doors we wasted no time. We took our seat in the first three chairs in the lobby, and Tom and Joe began to chain down while I hung the banner on the doors. One employee attempted to remove Joe from his chair by force but Tom and I joined his arms and I informed him that this was a non violent protest and that we had called the media, which backed him off enough for them to finish locking their chains to the wooden chairs. Then, the security guard, in full uniform complete with Smokey the Bear hat and gun, came through the doors and asked the two women in the lobby “How did they get in here?”
But it gets better. Big Mike, Massey’s chief of security, whom we’ve gotten to know quite well over the last year, also asked the same question to the Security Guard with the Smokey the Bear hat, “How’d they get in here?” It was a question we have heard him ask on practically every one of our actions, and one that we generally refrained from answering. Big Mike was especially agitated not only because his office was in the building, but also his boss’s office, who was now in the lobby asking him; “How did they get in here?”
Big Mike was not happy, and he leaned in real close to my face and said, almost whispering; “It’s one thing when you guys go up on the strip job, but this is fucking different!” It sounded more like a threat than a statement, and I wondering how a simple sit-in at the Massey office could elicit such a bitter and hard response when I looked out the window and a watched small black helicopter touch down on the newly cleared landing pad. You guessed it! It was Big Don Blankinship himself and there was Big Mike telling him that everything was under control, but there were three Climate Ground Zero Activists chained down in his lobby.
“How did they get in here?”