BRISTOL, Va. - Bristol, Virginia police say eight people are facing charges after a Friday morning protest in front of Alpha Natural Resources' headquarters.
The group Mountain Justice said in a statement members were protesting the coal company's opening of new mines in West Virginia.
Bristol officers say one man chained himself to a flagpole; two others locked arms in front of the entrance.
The following people were arrested by Bristol, Virginia Police:
Camilo Pereira, 22, Bethesda, Maryland. Obstructing free passage, Trespassing. He was also found to be wanted in Maryland for burglary.
Glenn Scott David Collins, 26, Rock Creek, West Virginia. Trespassing.
Roger Alden Butterfield, 24, Sarasota, Florida. Trespassing
Dustin Steele, 22, Matewan, W VA. Trespassing
Grabowski Galen Sol Shiremon, 19, Bearlake, Michigan. Disorderly conduct, Violation of fire codes (due to his chaining of the front doors), Obstruct free passage, Trespassing.
Nicholas Rasmussen Segal-Wright, 23, Sarasota, Florida. Trespassing
Dakota Rae Steele, 19, Poultny, Vermont. Trespassing
Maleny Crespo, 21, Lansing, Michigan. Obstruct free passage, Trespassing
An Alpha Natural Resources employee told our crews on scene Friday morning the company did not have a comment.
Alpha released the following statement about the incident:
"This is not a group of local residents who are protesting a local issue with Alpha Natural Resources. They are members of a group based in West Virginia that is protesting a broader issue, one that does not relate to our community, so they brought their protest to the Alpha corporate headquarters.
Their mission was to get media attention for their group -- most area residents don't know who they are. We certainly respect their right to protest, but they don't have the right to come onto private property to do so, and they don't have the right to try and prevent Alpha employees from getting to work.
We disagree with their method, trying to block the company from doing business and taking up the valuable time of our community's first responders. A publicity stunt like this does nothing more than squander local emergency and public safety resources and cost taxpayers money."
Mountain Justice released a statement about the incident as well. It reads, in part:
"Three activists with Mountain Justice and Radical Action for Mountains and People's Survival (RAMPS) are currently stopping business as usual at Alpha Natural Resources headquarters in Bristol, VA, in protest of Alpha's devastating practices of mountaintop removal coal mining. Activists were protesting the opening of new mines on Coal River Mountain in southern West Virginia. Two protestors are locked in front of the front doors of the office, while a third is hanging from a flag pole displaying a banner that reads "Save Coal River Mountain."
"That mountain is the mountain I learned to hunt on, it's the mountain that's sustained my family for generations. I'll be a dead man before I see them take what's left up there," said Junior Walk, of West Virginia. Walk lives in the Coal River Valley, directly below Alpha operations on Coal River ountain. Alpha recently began blasting on the 264 acre Collins Fork mine. Local residents and activists have opposed surface mining on Coal River Mountain since the late 1990s.
"I am here today to demand an end to Alpha's role in the destruction of Appalachia. While coal is exported and profits leave the region, the health effects remain in the communities," said Camilo Pereira, one of the protestors blocking the office. Two of the protesters in a lockbox at the front door of Alpha's headquarters and blocked the entrance.
The RAMPS Campaign's ongoing work against Alpha Natural Resources demands an end to Alpha's mountaintop removal practices in Appalachia. Furthermore, RAMPS urges the company to re-employ miners for effective and thorough reclamation of retired and abandoned mine sites."