Hundreds of people also marched down Pennsylvania Avenue to Lafayette Park, which faces the White House, according to protesters and media accounts. The march included at least one stop, at U.S. EPA headquarters, protesters said.
Author and activist Jeff Biggers said upwards of about 2,000 people participated in events around the nation’s capital Monday.
The events included a protest in front of a PNC bank branch, where about 30 people were arrested, according to Biggers. He said the bank finances mountaintop removal projects.
Another small cadre of protesters set up camp at the Interior Department headquarters, though it is unclear whether any arrests were made. “It was quite spread out around the city,” Biggers told The Hill.
Hansen appears to be the highest profile protester who was arrested.
“What’s unique about this is it’s a movement that’s emerged as a rebellion out of the coal fields by the residents themselves,” Biggers said.
He said that unlike environmental groups that have been unable to get Congress to enact climate change legislation, “These people are really organized and they’re really passionate about stopping strip mining.”
Matthew Sherman — a member of a group called Appalachia Rising — said the protesters marched without incident or violence. “It was absolutely necessary,” he told The Hill. “They’re destroying our mountains; they’re murdering our people through dirty water.”
While the Washington, D.C., protests were specifically about mountaintop removal, other protests Monday and this weekend in several states were against the act of strip mining in the coal industry.
Protesters in Illinois, for example, displayed black crosses at coal plants and other industry landmarks because “they literally no longer want to be crucified on the cross of coal any longer,” Biggers said. That is a play on words of the ending of the famous speech William Jennings Bryan gave at the 1896 Democratic Convention to protest the gold standard: “You shall not crucify mankind upon a cross of gold.”