The Day | Marchers’ first night camping interupted, but Tuesday brings cheering schoolkids and money

March on Blair Mountain participants prepare to start their walk on Monday. After arriving in Racine Monday evening, they were asked to leave county-owned John Slack Park, where they had set up camp. Marchers complied with the request, and returned to Marmet. | Photo by M.L. Ramsburg

 

BY M.L. RAMSBURG

March on Blair Mountain attendees were ushered off a Racine park where they had set up camp late Monday night.

According to the March on Blair Mountain website, around 10 p.m. Monday night, “Boone County Officials showed up and told us that we no longer had permission to camp in the park, and that if we didn’t leave we’d all be arrested.” The Marchers had set up camp at the John Slack Park in Boone County. A media liaison representing the March said the group’s logistics team had received advanced permission from the park director to stay overnight on the property. The liaison said she did not know the park director’s name because she was not a member of the logistics team planning the overnight stays.

Jim Gore, Boone county commission administrator, confirmed that he was the one who met the group at John Slack Park Monday night. Gore said that representatives of the march had contacted his office three times about staying on the park grounds, and each time, he said, his office responded with a no, citing a 32-year old rule that prevents overnight camping on John Slack grounds.

“Marchers have a right to march,” Gore said in a telephone interview Tuesday. “But they [the no-overnight camping rules] are rules we enforce for everyone.”

Gore said Marchers were given a few hours to leave the site’s premise.  He said that everything went over fairly “smooth”.

Both Gore and March on Blair Mountain representatives say Marchers agreed to leave without incident. A post on the group’s website about the order says marchers,  “decided to leave because we aren’t marching to take a stand at this park, or confront the Boone County Commissioner.”

After leaving John Slack Park, marchers were taken back to the group’s headquarters in Marmet, a media liaison said. On Tuesday, they were driven from Marmet to their Tuesday starting point. They were expected to arrive in Madison later Tuesday evening.

Also on Tuesday, the March on Blair Mountain website posted a request for donations, asking each of it’s nearly 1,000 “virtual marchers” to donate $5 each.

“We’re arranging alternative camping arrangements, and ensuring that we have walkie-talkies and safety equipment to keep everyone safe and secure,” the website reads. “Bottom line is, we need to raise $5,000 to keep the March moving safely and securely.”

By 8:00 p.m. Tuesday, a post on the group’s Twitter account (@marchonblairmt) revealed that they had raised 80% of their goal monies.

Tuesday’s marching was met with high temperatures and some afternoon storms. But that didn’t seem to keep organizers from keeping up their optimism. Tuesday afternoon, another tweet revealed, “Marchers have been cheered on by 40 schoolkids, given money by supportive locals, and there has been a general positive response!”

“The Day” brings you up-to-date on what has happened at the March on Blair Mountain within the past 24-hours.

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