Quantcast

Breaking: 7 Washington University Students Arrested Protesting Peabody Coal

Insights + Opinion

On the heels of an earlier arrest of a student at a growing divestment blockade at Harvard University, seven Washington University students were arrested today in St. Louis, as they sought to enter the quarterly meeting of the Board of Trustees.

Today's action followed a historic 17-day sit-in at the St. Louis campus, where hundreds of Washington University students have joined in a campaign to remove Peabody Energy CEO Greg Boyce from the Board of Trustees, as part of other demands to cut university ties with the coal industry giant

[blackoutgallery id="333102"]

World renowned author Margaret Atwood, appearing yesterday to accept the Arts First award at Harvard, summed it up best at an open forum when asked about the protest: "Any society where arrest is preferable to open dialog is a scary place."

According to Washington University student Caroline Burney, nearly 100 students rallied in front of the Knight Center, where the Board of Trustees meeting was being held, and then marched to the main doors of the building. Students were faced by a line of police, locked arms, and stated that they were not leaving until they were let into the building to speak with Greg Boyce about his role at the University and on the Board of Trustees. After about forty minutes of singing and chanting, seven students were arrested by St. Louis County Police

"I am proud to be standing up to Peabody Coal today," said Julia Ho, one of the students who was arrested. "For too long, fossil fuel corporations have used their partnerships with universities to legitimize their destructive and unjust business practices. That must stop. Students across the country are fighting back against the fossil fuel industry and will keep fighting back until until fossil fuels are off of our campuses." 

Photos credit: Students Against Peabody

"It's really obvious that Washington University is on the wrong side of history," said Dr. Bret Gustafson, an associate professor of sociocultural anthropology at Washington University. "On top of the concerns of coal, global warming, and the unethical practices of Peabody Coal, the student protests are also raising the issue of the corporate takeover of university spaces, and the threat to academic freedom. That was made visible today."

"Today's arrests are part of a larger fight against Peabody Coal in St. Louis, across the country, and around the world," said Caroline Burney, with Students Against Peabody Energy. "We're here for ourselves and for all of the other communities that Greg Boyce and Peabody Coal have destroyed, including including Rocky Branch, Illinois and Black Mesa, Arizona. Our fight will continue here in St. Louis at next week's Peabody shareholder's meeting and in Black Mesa at the end of May."

Added Gustafson, an alumni of Harvard University, where a similar divestment protest and blockade is underway, "It's amazing the administration is not willing to give an inch. But they're wrong if they think they can just arrest a few students and this will go away. This is the first wave of a rising tide, and just the beginning of a longer struggle."

In a press release, the Students Against Peabody Energy reiterated their charges against Boyce's role as Peabody representative on the Washington University Board of Trustees:

The students point to several of Peabody's recent actions as the impetus for their campaign. Peabody Coal is currently trying to take over a second community road for its mining operations in Rocky Branch, Illinois. Peabody lobbyists are also attempting to gut The Take Back St. Louis ballot initiative and local democratic processes by inserting amendments into two Missouri House bills that would ban cities or other municipalities from "by ballot measure impos[ing] any restriction on any public financial incentive authorized by statute." Peabody is also a key leader in the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which is currently meeting in Kansas City and facing large scale protests from unions and other progressive organizations.

[blackoutgallery id="331707"]

——–

YOU ALSO MIGHT LIKE

Students Stage Day of Action As Harvard University Refuses to Divest From Fossil Fuels

——–

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Waterloo Bridge during the Extinction Rebellion protest in London. Martin Hearn / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Money talks. And today it had something to say about the impending global climate crisis.

Read More Show Less
Sam Cooper

By Sam Cooper

Thomas Edison once said, "I'd put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power!"

Read More Show Less
Sponsored

Zero Waste Kitchen Essentials

Simple swaps that cut down on kitchen trash.

Sponsored

By Kayla Robbins

Along with the bathroom, the kitchen is one of the most daunting areas to try and make zero waste.

Read More Show Less
A NOAA research vessel at a Taylor Energy production site in the Gulf of Mexico in September 2018. NOAA

The federal government is looking into the details from the longest running oil spill in U.S. history, and it's looking far worse than the oil rig owner let on, as The New York Times reported.

Read More Show Less
Golde Wallingford submitted this photo of "Pure Joy" to EcoWatch's first photo contest. Golde Wallingford

EcoWatch is pleased to announce our third photo contest!

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Damage at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge from the 2016 occupation. USFWS

By Tara Lohan

When armed militants with a grudge against the federal government seized the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in rural Oregon back in the winter of 2016, I remember avoiding the news coverage. Part of me wanted to know what was happening, but each report I read — as the occupation stretched from days to weeks and the destruction grew — made me so angry it was hard to keep reading.

Read More Show Less
Computer model projection of temperature anomalies across Europe on June 27. Temperature scale in °C. Tropicaltidbits.com

A searing heat wave has begun to spread across Europe, with Germany, France and Belgium experiencing extreme temperatures that are set to continue in the coming days.

Read More Show Less
Skull morphology of hybrid "narluga" whale. Nature / Mikkel Høegh Post

In the 1980s, a Greenlandic subsistence hunter shot and killed a whale with bizarre features unlike any he had ever seen before. He knew something was unique about it, so he left its abnormally large skull on top of his toolshed where it rested until a visiting professor happened upon it a few years later.

Read More Show Less