Rocky Branch Blockaders Stand Up for Shawnee Hills, Two Arrested

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from Shawnee Hills and Hollers (Facebook)

Two people have been arrested this morning in a road blockade to stop Peabody’s strip mine expansion in Rocky Branch, IL. Peabody has rushed to log and clear as quickly as possible to sidestep the endangered species act protections of the Indiana Bat by destroying the Bat’s roosting sites. Peabody is also currently trying to reroute Rocky Branch Road, the main artery for the residents, local farmers and tourists.

“Peabody doesn’t care about our roads, our homes or our health. Just as Peabody has no compassion for our smallest creatures, the Indiana bat, they have no compassion for human beings. We have followed the letter of the law and they don’t. We have no choice but to take peaceful action. We are asking everyone to come join us in our fight to preserve our homes,” said Judy Kellen, an elected official from the township of Rocky Branch.

This action is the second road blockade at Rocky Branch in the last two weeks and demonstrates the organized opposition ready to fight extraction from coal mining and impending fracking.

This from Huffington Post

Illinois-native filmmaker Mitch Wenkus journeyed to southern Illinois recently, to chronicle the epic Rocky Branch showdown, including the role of Judy Kellen. Wenkus released this short film, “Judy’s Rock,” as part of his documentation:

Kellen riveted the county last fall at a special hearing on the closure of their roads to accommodate the Peabody mine:

“We have lost population, we have lost homes and we have lost roads,” Kellen said.“When the mining company is gone who is going to pick up the tab for loss of revenue from homes and roads in order to continue to maintain the roads we still have? We were told when we lose old 13 and it is ripped out that the state would replace it. Our state is broke. We have lost a view of where we could see for miles. We have lost history. We had a cemetery in a beautiful location that now has been turned into something akin to an abyss. We have to endure dust, noise levels to the pitch you wanted to scream because you couldn’t get any rest or sleep, earth tremors, home damages, complete isolation of any type of view to the north, health issues, a sadness in your heart that puts a dread on your face everyday and an unrest in the spirit that we knew nothing of.”

Earlier this month, despite threats of violence, locals set up road blocks to call attention to Peabody-hired loggers, whose heavy equipment violated county road tonnage limits.

Last week, thanks to an extraordinary grassroots campaign, Kellen and other affected locals including Jennifer Dumbris and farmer/preacher Allan Porter, delivered over5,000 petition signatures to state Attorney General Lisa Madigan, calling for an immediate halt to the operations and an administrative review of the rushed state permit.

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