CREVE COEUR, MO--Seven protesters disrupted work at Arch Coal corporate headquarters today by locking themselves together inside Arch’s office building. At approximately 9 a.m., three protesters disguised as delivery personnel wheeled a 500-pound potted plant filled with concrete up to the third floor offices of Arch Coal and locked themselves to the plant. Another four protesters dressed in business attire joined them and locked themselves to each other, effectively blocking people from entering or leaving the office, while another group of protesters entered the ground floor lobby and released helium balloons floating a banner with a drawing of a dragline that read, “John Eaves, your coal company kills.”
The protesters in the lobby confronted office workers with protest songs and chants that emphasized a sustained resistance to Arch’s dirty energy and culpability in the climate crisis. Protesters hung another banner from a second floor banister that read, “Arch: Nemesis of the Land and People.” When asked to leave by police approximately 45 minutes later, the protesters downstairs complied but remained outside to sing and support protesters upstairs.
Arch Coal, a Missouri-based company, mines extensively in Appalachia. Arch’s operations follow a history of flagrantly irresponsible mining practices that poison groundwater, destroy mountains, and uproot Appalachian culture. According to blockader Margaret Fetzer, “Arch [has] been sacrificing the health of communities in Appalachia and across the world for their quarterly profits. Capitalism does not answer to communities, it only consumes them.”
Arch undermines Appalachia’s legacy of resistance by strip mining the Blair Mountain Battlefield, the site of the second-largest armed uprising in U.S. history and a pivotal early union battleground. Workers’ rights are routinely threatened by Arch’s insidious business practices. Currently, Arch plays a role in an ongoing case in which 22,000 unionized Patriot employees are being robbed of their healthcare and pensions.
“I have seen coal wreck everything around me! Arch [has] spent the last 125 years destroying [my] home,” blockader and native West Virginian Dustin Steele said. Steele swore to sustain resistance against Arch Coal, saying, “I will not allow their economy to kill any more of my friends. ...I will be there fighting every inch of [every] permit.”
The police encountered difficulties removing protesters and set off a fire alarm from smoke created by their equipment. The last protester was removed at approximately 3:45 p.m., after over six hours of disrupting “business as usual” at the office.
All seven protesters have been arrested and charged with trespass and resisting arrest, and six protesters have been released on bail of $1,000 each. One protester has chosen to remain in jail to confront injustice in the legal system and continue resisting. Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment (MORE), Radical Action for Mountain Peoples Survival (RAMPS), and Mountain Justice helped to organize today’s protest and welcome donations online to help cover legal costs.