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Helena Area News

Aug 13, 2012 7:56 PM by Marnee Banks (marnee@kxlh.com)

UPDATE: Coal protesters arrested at capital

UPDATED: 7:33 P.M.

Helena police officers arrested seven protesters on Monday evening after they peacefully refused to the leave the Capitol building.

The protesters were booked into the Lewis & Clark County jail on misdemeanor charges of criminal trespass.

The seven were part of a larger group that gathered at the Capitol earlier in the day, asking the Montana Land Board to put an end to coal mining on state land. The protesters claim that coal is dirty and that transporting coal across Montana on trains is a threat to public health.

The protesters plan on being here all week, and say they will stay all day and all night for an entire week to communicate their message.

The seven who were arrested said that they plan to post bail and return to the protest on Tuesday.

Before the arrests, Lowell Chandler of the group Blue Skies Campaign said, "We are not going to sacrifice our land, our air, our water and our private property rights, our economic vitality to become an Asian coal colony."

Fellow protester Rick Bass said, "It's wrong to rip up Otter Creek. It's wrong to rip up Tongue River country. It's really wrong for Montanans to sell dirty coal to Asia, to flood the market with cheap subsidized coal, subsidized by U.S. taxpayers and Montana taxpayers. It is flat wrong."


A group of protesters began a week-long sit in at the Capitol in Helena on Monday with a message.

They're asking the Montana Land Board to put an end to coal mining on state land, claiming that it's dirty and that transporting coal across Montana on trains is a threat to public health.

The protesters plan on being here all week.

Protest organizers say they will stay all day and all night for an entire week to communicate their message.

Law enforcement officials say the Capitol closes at 6 pm and at that point, the protesters must go. Organizers say they are staying, and if officers force them to leave they will be arrested peacefully, post bail, and come back tomorrow.

We will update you as the situation develops.

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