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Five Alpha Bridge Blockaders Sentenced; Four in Jail Now

Above: Mountain Justice activists chain themselves to an industrial tank of black water in front of Alpha Natural Resources’ Bristol, Va., headquarters on May 24, 2013 to protest Alpha’s mountaintop removal strip mining and coal slurry operations across the region.

Four of the bridge blockaders who pleaded guilty yesterday to blocking a public road turned themselves in after court to the tiny jail in Bristol, VA for their 5-day jail sentence.  Andy, Junior Walk, Jocelyn Sawyer,  and Emily “Gabby” Gillespie will be in jail until Monday, July 29th. David Baghdadi, who served 15 days following his arrest, did not have to do additional jail time (his 15 pre-sentenced days, which should have counted as 30, instead counted as his 5).

During negotiations over the case for the Alpha Five, the prosecutor attempted to demand restitution to Alpha Natural Resources, which the defendants said they would not pay as a matter of principle.  Their final plea included an 90-day jail sentence, 80 of which are suspended and will be waived upon payment of restitution. Ten of those days were to be served immediately, but each person will be able to get out after 5 days of “good behavior” in jail.FIve Alph Bridge Protesters

The final plea deal included restitution to the city of Bristol for the police and fire department teams that came out to dismantle the blockade. Their joint and several restitution totals at $3,328.77, not including each person’s $100 fine and $116 court costs. The Alpha 5 must travel all the way to Bristol every two months to visit their probation officer as long as this restitution is unpaid, and if it is not paid within one year they will be asked to serve the suspended 80 days on their sentence. Please help them raise the money they need to to avoid these penalties!

You can also show your support by coming to welcome them out of jail on Monday, July 29th, in Bristol, VA.

The Blockade of Alpha’s national headquarters took place at the end of Mountain Justice Summer Camp this year; to learn more about it, read about it on the Mountain Justice Website:

Alph protest meme


Four RAMPS and Mountain Justice folks took a plea deal today from the May 24 blockade of Alpha Natural Resources/Massey’s headquarters near Bristol, Tenn.  A video from the action is here.

Emily Gillespie, Junior Walk, Jocelyn Sawyer and Andy pleaded to blocking a roadway in exchange for the prosecutor dropping obstruction of justice.  Each was sentenced to five days in jail plus a $100 fine and $116 in court costs.  Additionally, the entire group was ordered to pay $3,328.77 in restitution to the city of Bristol.

More information will be out soon so check back over the next day or so.

This action happened earlier in the same day as a Hands Off Appalachia action that targeted UBS Wealth Management, a large financier of strip mining.

This Mountain Justice post summarized the events of the day.

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