Cross posted from It’s Getting Hot In Here
August 15, 2011
Today, over a hundred marched, with fifteen arrested, as the Midwest Rising! Convergence took the streets of St. Louis to protest Bank of America and Peabody Coal.
Peabody is the world’s largest coal company and operates massive mines in states like Wyoming and Montana. The coal goes to power plants in the U.S. and overseas markets. They are currently trying to build coal export terminals along the Washington coast to ship the coal to Asia.
Peabody has also recently taken a $61 million tax credit from the city of St. Louis, $2 million of that cash will be taken from the city’s schools.
Bank of America is the largest forecloser of homes in the nation and the largest financier of coal. Bank of America execs have taken over $35 million in bonuses and compensation even as the troubled financial institution took government bailouts.
Midwest Rising was a convergence for climate and economic justice that brought together a diverse coalition of groups fighting home foreclosures in cities like Chicago, St. Louis and Pittsburgh, communications workers on strike against Verizon Wireless, local labor organizers, Appalachian activists fighting mountaintop removal and climate justice activists from around the world.
In the morning, Midwest Rising activists also organized four decentralized actions at the corporate headquarters of Arch Coal and Monsanto, a Verizon Wireless store and the St. Louis Board of Education. By mid-morning, the Appalachian-Arch Coal contingent joined the striking communications workers at the Verizon store singing “solidarity forever” and telling the story of the new Battle of Blair Mountain.
Corporate America attempted to disrupt Midwest Rising as one company contacted the conference center trying to get the venue canceled, another pressured the transportation company to not deliver activists downtown in rented buses for Monday’s rally and they assembled a small army of police and private security to protect the Peabody and Bank of America buildings. There were also heavy police presences at Arch and Monsanto.
At one point a Rising Tide activist confronted a St. Louis police officer, who followed them into a coffee shop, and asked if he worked for “Peabody or the City of St. Louis. To which the officer replied “Peabody. And you. But they pay me more.”