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

Electric cars recharge at public charging stations. Sven Loeffler / iStock / Getty Images Plus

By Ben Jervey

Drivers of electric cars are being unfairly punished by punitive fees in several states, according to a newly published analysis by Consumer Reports. Legislators in 26 states have enacted or proposed special registration fees for electric vehicles (EVs) that the consumer advocacy group found to be more expensive than the gas taxes paid by the driver of an average new gasoline vehicle.

Read More Show Less
A plastic bag sticks to a wire fence in a remote location in the Mourne Mountains, co Down, Northern Ireland. Dave G Kelly / Moment / Getty Images

Ireland is ready to say goodbye to plastic cutlery, plastic balloon sticks and grocery items wrapped in plastic as a way to drastically reduce the amount of waste in Irish landfills, according to the Ireland's national broadcaster, RTE.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
This 1910, power plant, with the U.S. Capitol in the background, is owned by Congress and is the only coal-burning facility in a city that repeatedly violates Clean Air standards. Jahi Chikwendiu / The Washington Post / Getty Images

By Oliver Milman

Two-thirds of Americans believe climate change is either a crisis or a serious problem, with a majority wanting immediate action to address global heating and its damaging consequences, major new polling has found.

Read More Show Less
Organic carrots and radishes at a farmers' market. carterdayne / iStock / Getty Images Plus

By Brian Barth

There's something of a civil war brewing in the organic movement.

Read More Show Less
Volunteers participate in 2018's International Coastal Cleanup in (clockwise from top left) the Dominican Republic, Ghana, Norway and Washington, DC. Ocean Conservancy / Gabriel Ortiz, David Kwaku Sakyi, Kristin Folsland Olsen, Emily Brauner

This coming Saturday, Sept. 21 is the International Coastal Cleanup (ICC), the annual Ocean Conservancy event that mobilizes volunteers in more than 100 countries to collect litter from beaches and waterways and record what they find.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Students hold a Youth Strike for Climate Change Protest in London, UK on May 24. Dinendra Haria / SOPA Images / LightRocket via Getty Images

The New York City public schools will allow their 1.1 million students to skip school for Friday's global climate strike, The New York Times reported Monday.

Read More Show Less
The 16-year-old Swede Greta Thunberg speaks during her protest action for more climate protection with a reporter. Steffen Trumpf / picture alliance / Getty Images

By Mark Hertsgaard and Kyle Pope

It's been 30 years since Bill McKibben rang the warning bells about the threat of man-made climate change — first in a piece in The New Yorker, and then in his book, The End of Nature.

Read More Show Less
At the International Motor Show (IAA), climate protestors are calling for a change in transportation politics. © Kevin McElvaney / Greenpeace

Thousands of protestors marched in front of Frankfurt's International Motor Show (IAA) on Saturday to show their disgust with the auto industry's role in the climate crisis. The protestors demanded an end to combustion engines and a shift to more environmentally friendly emissions-free vehicles, as Reuters reported.

Read More Show Less