Appalachians Slap Back
"This is a pipeline that cuts through every county in Virginia that I’ve ever called home," Ben explained. "I grew up here. I live here. In 2018, people started putting their bodies in the way of the Mountain Valley Pipeline. They’ve been called a lot of things, including outside agitators and paid protesters. These narratives mask a powerful truth — that from the beginning, resistance to this pipeline has been driven by people who are fighting because we care about protecting the land and water where we live."
Ben continued "In the end, most of us are guests on this stolen land — land that was founded on atrocities and extraction. Today is Indigenous People's Day — a day to acknowledge centuries of horrific genocide, a day to celebrate Indigenous resistance and defense, and a day to remember that struggles against colonialism continue every day of every year. Institutionalized greed is not new to this land; the Mountain Valley Pipeline is an extension of violent settler colonialism. Ongoing habits of extraction, exploitation, and domination come at the cost of our planet and our humanity. This struggle is about more than Appalachia and more than a pipeline. The continued use and expansion of fossil fuels impacts every single one of us. We should all be in this fight."
"Recently, Mountain Valley Pipeline sued a random group of people for peacefully protesting them, seeking over 4 million dollars and trying to prohibit their opposition with intimidating legal consequences. This kind of thing is generally referred to as a SLAPP suit (strategic lawsuit against public participation.) They want to scare the opposition away. It’s not a new tactic, and I want everyone to know that it isn’t going to work." Ben Continued, "I’m one of the folks being sued, and it feels more like a call to action than a threat. It inspired me to come out here and get in their way. I hope to stop work for a long time. I hope people see this action and are called to help. I hope more people realize that this local fight against this one pipeline is so much bigger than it seems. And I’m here to say again: we won’t back down."
"We’re Appalachians. Appalachians slap back."
Supporters are gathering on the mountain on Mystery Ridge Rd near the site of Ben's blockade, AND at the gate on Pocahontas Rd! Join us at either location - Mystery Ridge is a long hike in but we'd love to see folks there, reach out for details!
Update: Ben is still locked down, preventing Mountain Valley Pipeline work on Peters Mountain. "I've been here in the easement for almost 7 hours so far today," he wrote this evening. "Work stopped, so it's been the sound of rain and wind most of the day which is much better than the dystopian sound of chainsaw crews and heavy machines tearing into the mountain. The rain seems to have passed and I caught a bit of sunset from here. I even had a nice visit from the puffiest wren I've ever seen."
Ben continued, "The birds seem to be settling in for the night, but forest service cops are still riding their ATV up and down the road pretty regularly. MVP security took my food, water, and rain gear pretty early on in this, but they did leave me a sleeping bag. I imagine I'm in for a long cold night on the mountain, but I can't wait to see the sunrise light up the leaves on the trees that still surround the easement. And especially on the trees that have been growing back for the last five years. I hope to give them a little more time in the light."
Join DE This Sunday for a talk about how you can join this exciting group - and start making headlines of your own! Or at least help others do the same.
“What are our responsibilities at this time? Because of the fossil fuel industry, we are facing horrors of a magnitude never before experienced in our existence. Our government continues to lead us to the edge of no return. We must stand up and defend ourselves. No one else is going to do it. It must be us, if we want to live.
Our methods must be disruptive, and they must be nonviolent. Our actions are evidence-based, credible, and we have a plan. The only thing missing at this point in time is YOU!”
Register now at declareemergency.org/events
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