The Day | March continues in spite of more challenges
BY M.L. RAMSBURG
March on Blair Mountain participants completed the latest stretch of their journey towards Blair Mountain Wednesday, marching from Danville and heading south toward the Boone-Logan county border. Marchers faced high temperatures, small groups of protesters and were denied access to yet another campsite, March on Blair officials said.
Beginning at 10 a.m. Wednesday, marchers made the eight and a half mile journey, March media representatives said. In Madison, groups of protesters were on hand, but March media reps dubbed them “insignificant”, saying the counter protester’s numbers were “small”.
Dustin Steele, a Maetwan resident and March on Blair Mountain spokesman, was one of the marchers who made the journey through Boone County on Wednesday. He said area residents showed “a lot more support” than opposition. Steele said some residents even greeted marchers with soda, a welcomed respite in hot and humid temperatures that Blair March officials said reached 102 degrees in Madison.
“Today was all that we could have asked for and more,” Steele said.
March on Blair streamed part of the march live on their website Wednesday. Beginning at noon, website visitors were able to watch marchers as they made their way through Madison. A March media representative said Madison was chosen because it offered adequate cell phone reception. According to the representative, a Blair Mountain marcher used their iPhone to stream the event. The stream received nearly 190 views during the 20 minute broadcast.
As the day ended, “marchers were shuttled to the backup sleeping spot, as the camping spot that they had planned on using canceled [Tuesday] night,” a message on the March on Blair website read. This was the sixth time campsite owners have denied marchers access to their land in the past two weeks, according to a statement released by March on Blair officials earlier Wednesday. The statement places the blame on the coal industry, saying it “pressured and intimidated” camp owners “in an effort to inhibit the march.”
“What we do know is that many of the owners of these campsites were very hospitable at first, but have since said with regret that we cannot rest on their property,” Chuck Keeney, great-grandson of famed UMWA leader Frank Keeney, said in the statement. “The coal companies are trying to stop us by throwing obstacles and propaganda in our way.”
The March will continue Thursday, beginning approximately 5 miles south of Madison.
“The Day” brings you up-to-date on what has happened at the March on Blair Mountain within the past 24-hours.