BREAKING: Magistrate Snodgrass of Boone county sets $100,000 bail for non-violent protesters

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contacts: Dea Goblirsch 914-960-2197

Madison, W.Va. – EmmaKate Martin and Benjamin Bryant were arrested this morning while blockading the driveway to Massey Energy’s regional headquarters in Boone county, W.Va. Magistrate Snodgrass set their bails at $100,000 each for misdemeanor charges of trespassing, conspiracy to commit a misdemeanor, obstructing an officer, and littering.

Nick Martin, EmmaKate’s older brother and participant in Climate Ground Zero’s campaign of civil resistance, stated “As I hugged my little sister following her arraignment this morning, I was awed by her calmness and high spirits. I admire her courage, and her willingness to put her freedom on the line for the well being of Appalachian communities and the environment. I will worry about her constantly until she is free. My sister is my hero!”

EmmaKate Martin was perched on a platform suspended in a tripod, a structure built with rope and three log poles, and Bryant was locked to the base of a pole. Both Martin and Bryant underwent extensive non-violence training prior to their action. Their banner read “Massey, Profits Before People & Mountains, Fight Back!”

They articulated their motives and the sense of responsibility that impelled them to act in an open letter to Massey shareholders and the American public. The letter can be read at http://www.climategroundzero.org/openletter. Among their top concerns are mountaintop removal and the Brushy Fork Sludge Impoundment on Coal River Mountain.

Climate Ground Zero’s legal team is researching the legality of the unprecedentedly high bail and will seek legal recourse.

“Boone county is not giving these bails to simply punish EmmaKate and Ben. Boone county, and the state of West Virginia, is using high bail as an intimidation tactic to deter others from standing up for the health of communities and against mountaintop removal and Massey’s mistreatment of workers,” stated Sarah Seeds veteran non-violent activist.

There is an emerging pattern of non-violent protesters receiving heavy-handed punishment while those who use violence against them are let off the hook. On July 4, 2009, on Kayford Mountain, Adam Pauley threatened to kill families who had gathered to celebrate Independence Day at the Mountain Keepers Festival. He was not arrested, but was given a $100 fine and six months unsupervised when found guilty of verbal assault in a February 2010 trial brought against him by Mountain Keeper Larry Gibson. Rock Creek resident, Ruth Tucker, slapped Judy Bonds, outspoken mountaintop removal abolitionist, at a non-violent protest on June 23, 2009. She was released on personal recognizance and given a $100 fine six months after the fact. Climate Ground Zero activist, Jacqueline Quimby was recently sentenced to sixty days in jail for an act of non-violent civil disobedience at a Kanawha County mine site.

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4 Responses to BREAKING: Magistrate Snodgrass of Boone county sets $100,000 bail for non-violent protesters

  1. Mike G says:

    I used to work in the criminal justice system in two states as a probation/parole officer in two states–Florida and Ohio. I have seen people charged with major felonies like homicide and selling large quantities of drugs like cocaine, ecstasy, meth and other “major weight” drugs that had less bail posted.

    There is no doubt that the bail these people have been acessed is not needed for a minor misdemeanor crime–it has to be a case that the high bail amonts are “overkill” and have no relation to the “crimes” these people have committed. It does seem to be a case of official, legal intimidation on the part of government officials to scare off those who would stand up to the coal mining interests.

    If the government, legal and court systems in West Virginia were not as corrupt and in the pockets of the coal campanies as they obviously are—-the appeallate level of courts would have to find those bail amounts to be highly excessive—but don’t hold out much hope that is the case.

    It would certainly be the case that these bonds are excessive if they are for the full amount —-there is no legal reason in the world the bonds should be “Cash bonds” for this case and not percentage ones where you have to put up say, ten percent to get the bond posted–to make it a full $100,00O bond–that is simply way out of line—the story doesn’t make that point clear.

    The fact is–for a minor misdemeanor charge like these—and dpending on the prior records of ‘the defendents”–they should be released on ROR bonds–Released on their own Recognizance bonds. At least they should be able to post a Surety or Property Bond!!!

  2. Walt says:

    Good, maybe some jail time will bring everyone to their senses, really what do you expect when you trespass and obstruct the police.

  3. Citizen Harry says:

    Hooray for the non-violent protesters, utilizing their American Patriot fought for Freedom of Speech guaranteed by the Constitution, and more… for their brave, patriotic use of civil disobedience to bring attention to the horrific practice of Mountain Top Removal coal strip mining! It reminds me of the colonists dumping tea into Boston Harbor!

    I guess having to resort to this civil protest on private property has been inevitable, considering the coal dust, toxic chemicals, and waste that is routinely illegally dumped on other peoples private property, as well as in our air and water by the same company. I guess just asking them to stop making people sick has not been enough, as it would cut in to profits. Congrats!

  4. Mike G says:

    At the flim showing in Nashville on Thursday night–Judy Bonds said that the bail of these two activists are Cash Bonds–so that means they have to post bonds for the full amount.

    Now that I know that–I can clearly say that based on my experience of over a decade working in two court systems in Ohio and Florida—-to require bonds of that amount for non-serious, misdemeanor offenses is a “miscarriage of justice.”

    I have to say that I am not an attorney–but as a former probation officer–I would at times have to work in Pre-Trial Services–with our role in that capacity is to, along with the prosecutors, recommend appropriate bail amounts for criminal defendants.

    Bonds of that nature are almost universally used in cases where the accused in the case has committed a serious criminal violation—such as some form of murder, selling major quantities of drugs or the person has a lengthy record of past serious criminal behavior and poses a high degree of “being a flight risk.”

    The charges the pair face even in their entirety hardly warrant a bond of this type and its amount. Even if the pair have “a history” of arrests for similar civil disobedient “crimes” –I am sure that in other places–they did what was required by the courts in those places like paying their fines, court costs, did any requiured community service and probation time.

    The only caveat is if they might still have not discharged their time on probation and if that is the case–they should be set free on the current charges on a reasonable degree of bond to go deal with the fact they would face a violation of probation for having “committed the new offenses” by getting arrested in West Virginia on the current charges.

    To the person who said they deserve to have such a high bond and should spend time in jail–such a determination is for a judge to decide should they be CONVICTED of the offienses to which they are accused–but to subject them to this sort of treatment prior to dispositon of the case–it is simplly not warranted by any stretch of the imagination and is being overly punative.

    It will be interesting to see if the district/prosecuting attorney chooses to proceed with charging them with all those charges and what sort of sentencing they would recommend to the judge should the pair be found guilty—it would be a real travesty if the pair has the sentences for these charges to be served “stacked and consecutively!”

    Any sentences the pair might receive also ought to include “credit for time served” since they are sitting in jail since they cannot make the bond as well—and if that is not done–once again–that would be justice run amok.

    That would be a real signal to anyone who dares speak out and engages in acts of civil disobedience against “King Coal”—-that the “system” is without doubt acting only in the interests of the coal companies and is not working for the people by acting in the name of real justice.

    It is a chilling prospect, one that should even make Walt shake in his boots if he thought through the ramifcations of such judicial overreaching.

    I can tell you Walt—-for the court to have placed such a high Cash Bond on this pair in this case is quite simply in every sense of the word–it is WRONG!!!

    I am not saying the pair should not face the consequences for having violated the law—but that in this case—their bonds are simply unreasonable and are not at all warranted.

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