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Well, if You Ask Me: No Justice, No Peace

By Dano T Bob - IWW Environmental Unionism Caucus, December 12, 2015

So, after more than a week of deliberation and the threat of a hung jury, the Blankenship verdict is in….and well, it is uh, well, kinda disheartening to say the least. He was kinda sorta convicted of something, Conspiracy…misdemeanor Conspiracy. Yep, with a max jail term of, get this, one year! Jesus. Not that I think jail solves everything or well even begins to make him pay back the families of the 29 dead miners of Upper Big Branch, whose blood is on his hands. But, jesus. As my former co-worker and communications extraordinaire, Vivian Stockman from OVEC tweeted from reporter Taylor,

“Taylor Kuykendall @taykuy tweet sums it up

Max time ‪#‎Blankenship‬ faces same as max time one would do for excessive littering in West Virginia.… …

WV Code 4

(2) It is unlawful for any person to place, deposit, dump, throw or cause to be placed, deposited, dumped or thrown any litter from a motor vehicle or other conveyance or to perform any act which constitutes a violation of the motor vehicle laws contained in section fourteen, article fourteen, chapt…


Let that sink in. This man helmed a company that violated workplace safety laws regularly for years, leading to one of the worst mining disasters in U.S. history at Upper Big Branch and now faces what amounts to a penalty for littering.

This is not justice. And this is why we, as activists and humans, should not rely on courts for justice. It is a false path, a neo liberal institution bought and paid for with the same capital Blankenship has used to buy past judicial favor, capital that was created off of the backs of working people, including the working people who died so that Don Blankenship might make more profit.

And speaking of his filthy profit, the two charges that Blankenship was not convicted of (both felonies) were as follows:

“Knowingly and willfully making or causing to be made a materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement related to a material matter within the jurisdiction of the Securities and Exchange Commission; and acquitted on count three — willfully, knowingly, and with the intent to defraud making or causing to be made untrue statements of material fact or omissions of material fact in connection with the sale or purchase of securities.”

Financial crimes, crimes of money, not crimes of ending human life. So, we see here what is most important to the courts and to the law. Run an unsafe operation and let people die? Slap on the wrist. Lie to the SEC or investors? Never! That carries a 30 year jail term.

As OVEC founder and friend Dianne Bady stated in a press release, “For those of us who’ve been fighting the power of Big Money for decades, this is a painful reminder that in the “official” view, lying to the powers of Big Money is a much bigger offense than is conspiring to essentially make it possible for miners to be killed.”

So, how do we get justice, or at least try? People power and organizing, same as always, no shortcuts. We take back our courts, our government and our economy from men like Don Blankenship.

After the verdict was announced, Blankenship said to the press, “I feel fine.” It is our job to make sure that this does not remain the case. Because the families of the miners killed at Upper Big Branch and those in the communities that knew them most certainly do not feel fine.

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

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