The Day | March on Blair Mountain closes with rally, one attendee arrested and released
A March on Blair Mountain rally attendee wears a t-shirt advertising the documentary "The Last Mountain" on Saturday. The documentary, a candid look at strip mining (referred to by some as "Mountaintop Removal") and its effects on the environment, premiered on Friday in Charleston.
TEXT/PHOTOS BY M.L. RAMSBURG
BLAIR, WV — The March on Blair Mountain came to a close on Saturday, June 11. Event organizers say nearly 1,000 visitors were in attendance. The event began at a baseball field at the base of Blair Mountain in Logan County, West Virginia. It continued with a march to the top of the mountain later in the afternoon. One participant was arrested “for placing a memorial sign at the 1921 battlefield,” according to the March on Blair website. The man “was released 5 hours later without needing to pay bail.”
This reporter spoke with a few Blair residents who attended the rally, including the grandson of a 1921 marcher and a current strip miner from the town who said he is in favor of what the marchers are doing. Those stories, an interview with a counter protester, and a roundup of the week long march will be posted in the next few days. Until that time, here’s a photographic look at Saturday’s March on Blair Mountain rally.
“The Day” brings you up-to-date on what has happened at the March on Blair Mountain within the past 24-hours.
A makeshift warning sign alerts rally attendees not to cross onto private property. Violators who would not heed the warning could have faced criminal trespassing charges.
Former Secretary of State and U.S. Representative Ken Hechler made an appearance at the gathering. In a speech to the crowd, Hechler encouraged ralliers to "keep on hell-raising" against the coal companies and their continued use of the practice of strip mining.
Rally participants listen to a speaker on Saturday. Some ralliers walked 50 miles over five days from Marmet to Blair, while others came just for the rally.
Bobby Kennedy Jr. speaks at the rally in Blair on Saturday. Other distinguished speakers included country singer Kathy Mattea, film director Mari-Lynn Evans, and author Denise Giardina.
A man holds a sign showing two of the 1921 marchers killed during the Coal Field Wars of Southern West Virginia. This week's March on Blair Mountain recreated the march union miners, like the ones shown in the sign, took to organize the Southern coal fields.
A rally attendee (brown shirt, right) and two counter protesters (orange and white shirts, left) engage in a small verbal altercation during Saturday's rally. The exchange ended quickly when West Virginia State Police asked the two counter protesters to move on. Both men agreed, and went on their way.
A child holds the hands of two women at the start of Saturday's march to the top of Blair Mountain. Organizers say nearly 1,000 people attended the day's events.