PUBLIC PROTEST CLIFFSIDE — Two Reports
BREAKING THE TRAGIC SPELL, STOPPING THE SUICIDAL MOMENTUM
By Alice Loyd
On April 20, 2009, I went to Charlotte, North Carolina, to march in a rally and civil disobedience action to protest the construction of Duke Energy’s new coal-fired power plant at Cliffside in Rutherford County. Several hundred people from the Stop Cliffside coalition attended, and 44 were arrested when they stepped across a line in front of the Duke Headquarters building. Crossing the line emphasized our request to speak in person with Jim Rogers, Duke’s Chairman and CEO, to ask him to sign the Call to Conscience statement and stop building this plant. The specific act of disobedience had been selected by coalition leaders working with police to assure that our protest was peaceful.
I marched, while close friends and colleagues chose to risk arrest, and succeeded one by one as they stepped forward. We had reached this point in our global warming advocacy after many months of educating lawmakers, public officials, utility company personnel and the public about the dangers of burning coal at this time in history. Dr. James Hansen, NASA’s chief climate scientist, and Dr. William Schlesinger, former dean of the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University, sharing scientific expertise matched by altruism, had been speaking and writing about this expressly for North Carolina audiences. Wendell Berry and Bill McKibben had led a civil disobedience action against a coal plant in Washington, D.C., in early March. It was time for us to step up the pressure against our own coal plant project.
TAKING THE NEXT STEP
By Lib Hutchby
Participating in civil disobedience is a personal choice of conscience. On April 20, 2009, I marched with over 300 people down the side-walks of Charlotte, NC, to the headquarters of Duke Energy, the third largest polluter in the country to protest the building of a coal-fired power plant at Cliffside, a small town near Charlotte. Duke Energy had painted a bright orange line designating the edge of their property and threatened arrest if we stepped over the line.
Coal-fired power plants are emitting over 100 million tons of CO2 per year, while mountaintop removal has permanently ruined over 450 Appalachian mountains and destroyed 1200 miles of streams.
Willing to risk arrest through civil disobedience, 44 people stepped over the line, myself included, and were arrested and charged with trespassing. My conscience insisted that I participate in civil disobedience, as I took very seriously the steps I had taken and took responsibility for my actions. The police seemed surprised by the numbers of arrestees-Duke Energy rate-payers, residents of topless mountains, teachers, physicians, members of mining families, lawyers, ministers, executive directors, senior citizens, and students.