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Letter: Why are tree-sitters still in jail?

Letter: Why are tree-sitters still in jail?

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For 932 days various individuals have occupied the Yellow Finch tree sits in the path of a proposed fracked-gas pipeline. The Mountain Valley Pipeline would seal our collective fate: a three-hundred-mile path of ecological destruction, the pollution of multiple major water bodies, the re-direction of springs and seeps that heretofore supported life in the hills for millennia, and the increased streaming of greenhouse gases into our air. It’s a wonder more people haven’t taken to the trees.

The people in the trees, and all who have taken a stand against the MVP, are our heroes. And yet these people sit in jail, facing criminal charges and civil damages, while the people destroying our environment are enjoying their freedom to do so. In our view, the system has it backwards.

Why are our courts so determined to punish our heroes? MVP hasn’t had the permits necessary to construct for over two years. To this day, MVP still doesn’t have the necessary permits, and it may never be able to resume construction due to the permitting failures it has created for itself.

We may be young but we’re not stupid. We know a rigged system when we see it, and we see which side the judges and prosecutors seem to be taking. It’s our world, our future, and our homes that are at stake. No matter the rule of law, surely the spirit of the law is in keeping with ensuring a habitable planet for all people. If not to protect citizens what’s the point of the law at all?

Carson Hopkins, Christian Shushok, Béla Williams, Helena Huber, Anna Clare Fleenor, Emi Miyazaki, Lindsay Hatfield, Quinn Worley, Maggi Williams, Appalachian Youth Climate Coalition, Blacksburg

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