Activist and former New York City mayoral candidate, Reverend Billy Talen was arrested on Easter Sunday for refusing to remove a mound of toxic dirt "deposited" inside a Chase ATM lobby in the East Village. His protest foreshadowed the mining disaster in West Virginia that occured the next day.
JP Morgan Chase is one the nation's largest financiers of coal-mining mountaintop removal, whose list of clients include Massey Energy - the owner of the site of Monday's coal mine explosion in West Virginia.
Talen and members of his Life After Shopping group retrieved the "sacred" dirt from a strip-mining site in Coal River Mountain in West Virginia and placed it inside two East Village ATM lobbies on Sunday. He was arrested at the Astor Place branch after refusing orders from a police officer to remove the mound of dirt.
According to an article from Courthouse News Service, the former mayoral candidate and his gospel choir were protesting because "Morgan Chase has helped destroy more than 450 Appalachian mountains, deforested 800 square miles and polluted more than 1,200 miles of streams." Members of The Life After Shopping Gospel Choir sang "Chase, Bring Us Back the Mountains" along the tune of "Go Tell It On the Mountain."
The removal of mountaintops, which accounts for seven percent of the nation's coal, involves blowing off mountain tops, deforestation, and discharging debris into streams. It also increases levels of air pollution and water contamination, further posing greater health and property risks to residents.
For more information on Talen's position after Monday's mining explosion, you can read his recent post on Evolver.
For more information on JP Morgan Chase's involvement in coal mining in Appalachia, a post from Huffington Post can be found here.
Image "Reverend Billy" by jonathan mcintosh courtesy of Creative Commons on Flickr.Tweet