Downtown Gatherings Stay Peaceful as Police
The rally was made up of numerous
speakers, protest signs and music. A
counter rally, made up of coal supporters
was held a few blocks away at the
Kentucky Coal Association headquarters.
Posted on Sat, Jun. 18, 2005
removal spurs competing rallies
By Scott Sloan And Art Jester
HERALD-LEADER STAFF WRITERS
Moments both poignant and comic stood out late yesterday
afternoon during competing rallies in downtown Lexington over
the issue of mountaintop removal coal mining.
At Triangle Park, where 175 people assembled for an event
organized by Mountain Justice, the poignant moment
came when Martin County's Patsy Carter spoke, her voice trembling
Carter carried with her a framed, color photo of her daughter,
Darlies Carter, 21, who was killed May 2, 2000, when her car
collided with an overweight coal truck in Martin County.
"She was taken from me out of greed," Patsy Carter
said. "I will fight for the rest of my life" to
keep overweight coal trucks off the roads, she said.
Carter was one of about 20 speakers at the 90-minute rally.
Mountain Justice -- a coalition of environmental groups
from Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia and Virginia -- is
staging numerous non-violent protests this summer to press
for abolition of mountaintop removal coal mining.
Meanwhile, 150 people connected to the coal industry gathered
outside the office of the Kentucky Coal Association at 340
South Broadway to support mountaintop removal mining.
Supporters of the coal industry stood in front of the Kentucky
Coal Association with signs of support as protestors from
Mountain Justice walked passed along South Broadway
in Lexington, Ky. on Friday, June 17, 2005.
comic moment occurred when four of the protesters decided
to confront coal association president Bill Caylor.
In April 2004, during an event at the University
of Kentucky, Caylor said there was nothing toxic in the 300
million gallons of coal slurry that broke through an impoundment
in Martin County in 2000, flooding nearby streams.
To underscore his point, Caylor said then that he
would eat the coal waste to prove that it was only dirt and
a dinner of slurry, taken from Martin County, was put in goblets
and on a plate and delivered to him by Ali Meyer, a UK research
assistant; Erik Tuttle and Nick Smith, UK students from Knox
County; and Maude Richards, a Mountain Justice volunteer
When they reminded him of his offer, Caylor took a tiny bit
of the slurry and touched it to his lips, prompting Tuttle
to say, "We'll eat the whole thing if you'll take a bite."
Kentucky Coal Association president Bill Caylor, left,
tasted a small amount of coal slurry, brought to him
by a group from the "Rally to End Mountain Top
Removal Mining" a protest that was being held at
Triangle Park in Lexington, Ky. on Friday, June 17,
2005. On the right is Erik Tuttle from Knox County,
who was part of the group opposed to Mountain Top Removal.
Tuttle said they came up with the idea of the slurry "meal"
after he and Smith tried several times to get appointments
with Caylor, without success.
Caylor later said the slurry was bland. "It's no more
than dirt," he said. "They allege it's toxic, but
Slurry contains a witches brew of carcinogenic
chemicals used in coal washing and processing such as-- arsenic,
chromium, cadmium, boron, selenium, nickel, and others that
are present in coal.
Caylor called the protesters "very well meaning and
spirited young kids, but they're young and inexperienced."
The rallies were peaceful throughout, watched over by 18
Lexington police officers.
When the Mountain Justice group marched south on Broadway
and walked by the coal association group, police formed a
protective line between the groups so that the most that was
exchanged was words.
blocked intersections as the Mountain Justice contingent
marched through downtown to the Kentucky Utilities building.
At the KU entrance, Perrin de Jong and Brandon Absher of
the Lexington Environmental Project posted a sign directed
at the utility and bearing three demands: ending mountaintop
removal mining and the use of coal acquired by that method;
obtaining the best available pollution controls; and developing
20 percent renewable energy by 2020.
Mountaintop removal uses explosives to blow out a mountaintop,
and heavy equipment to extract the coal until the mountain
is leveled. The remaining dirt, called valley fill, is pushed
into a low-lying area.
Mountain Justice opposes the method, saying it destroys
mountains and pushes fill into places where it chokes off
streams and creeks.
Paul Matney, 53, of Corbin, the personnel director for TECO
Coal, said he came to the coal association rally to represent
the residents of his region. The association says mountaintop
removal stimulates the economy and provides jobs.
Matney said those advocating an end to mountaintop removal
mining are taking away the freedom of Eastern Kentucky residents.
"I resent people coming to tell me what I can and can't
do with my property," Matney said.
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