Police Arrest Seven Washington U Students at Protest Against Peabody Coal Exec

Categories: News

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Photos courtesy of Students Against Peabody
One of seven students arrested Friday at a Washington University protest against Peabody Energy.
After ending a seventeen-day sit-in to protest Washington University's close ties to coal giant Peabody Energy, seven students were arrested Friday while attempting to enter a board of trustees meeting and ask Peabody's chairman and CEO Greg Boyce to resign from the school's board.

The seven students were part of a 100-person protest outside the meeting, where students and non-student activists sang, chanted and locked arms against police in an effort to convince the university to sever ties with Peabody, the world's largest private-sector coal company, which is based in St. Louis.

"I am proud to be standing up to Peabody Coal today," says 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."

See also: Thousands Protest Peabody Energy, Arch Coal in St. Louis; Sixeteen Arrested

University officials told students they'd be arrested if they tried to enter the meeting.

"We needed to take our fight directly to Boyce and to Peabody," says Caroline Burney, 22, an organizer behind the student protests and a senior studying environmental policy and anthropology. "We knew it was a possibility that they would arrest students, but as students at this university, we think we should have access to university buildings."

Update: Students were arrested by police for taking a step toward the building where the board of trustees was meeting. Burney says the group was still feet away from the door when police stepped in.

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Students and non-student demonstrators protest Peabody Energy outside Washington University.
The Washington University Police Department charged the seven students with trespassing and peace disturbance. Police brought but didn't wear riot gear as they arrested students, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

"We thought the university police would be more reluctant to arrest students," Burney tells Daily RFT. "They came out in full force."

As part of last month's sit-in, the students demanded that the university remove Boyce from the board of trustees and that Chancellor Mark Wrighton attend a community-organized tour of Peabody extraction zones and issue a public statement about his experience. Wrighton refused but told media he welcomes a "constructive and respectful dialogue" with demonstrators.

See also: Anti-Coal Activists Want City to Wake Up to "Peabody Takeover"

The protesters, called Students Against Peabody, are aligned with Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment, the group that stumped for a ballot initiative in St. Louis to ban fossil fuel corporations from receiving tax incentives; a judge took the measure off the ballot after a lawsuit.

Students say that's only one of the reasons they're protesting against the school's connections with Peabody. Student organizers list several motivations, including Peabody's contribution to global carbon emissions, participation in the American Legislative Exchange Council and the marginalization of indigenous and rural communities in places including Black Mesa, Arizona and Rocky Branch, Illinois.

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Students demonstrating at Washington University Friday.
"As long as Greg Boyce sits on our Board of Trustees, the school will never re-name the Consortium for Clean Coal Utilization, take a stance on Peabody's continuous record of social injustices, or meet any of our other demands," says Caitlin Lee, one of the Students Against Peabody organizers.

The arrest came a day after a Harvard University undergraduate student was arrested for blocking a door to a university building as part of an environmental protest.

Follow Lindsay Toler on Twitter at @StLouisLindsay. E-mail the author at Lindsay.Toler@RiverfrontTimes.com.


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21 comments
sia0sgh
sia0sgh

So dumb going after a business, whether you like it or not, Peabody hasn't done anything illegal. If you think their actions should be illegal then fight congress to change laws. No reason to protest a legal and legitimate company.

John Sitek
John Sitek

It's unfortunate that solar and wind power aren't more readily available (due to cost, not the lack of technology) to homeowners. That being said, institutions of learning are one outfit that should be able to benefit from such improvements in power generation.

James Harris
James Harris

All I was trying to say is everyone is quick to judge but the extent of the contributions here have been childish shit-talking, and my reaction was to question what, if anything, anyone(not just you) here flappin' jaws has achieved, studied, or done at all. They've worked hard to be heard and have a valid message whether you agree it not. Also iPhones as a for instance in the realm of who cares: why would anyone that wanted their message(that they believe to be worth shouting) heard settle for anything less than the best in mobile social technology? A substantial element of modern social theory involves utilising the tools of the "oppressor"(annoying term but whatever) to affect change, to take ownership of something ostensibly negative and use it for a better purpose. Like maybe the purposes the guy that dreamt up the cell phone or twitter had in mind before it was co-opted by selfies and shitty internet arguments. Inventing better technology is always moving, always. Even while these kids march and shout, while they sleep. Even BP put near a billion into solar efficiency last year. But these kids have a right to not be "represented" by someone that uses his seat at the table WHERE HE HAS THE POWER TO DECIDE SOMEONE'S FUTURE purely to whitewash his incredibly bad public image that includes (can you believe this still happens?) forcible and covert removal of native people from the land we already forced them onto and locked them down into. Also someone that has put considerable lobbying dollars toward the TAXATION and LIMITING of solar power. It isn't enough to simply have good tech if the person in power says they're not allowed, or taxes them into non-existence. That requires a movement to remove the obstruction in coordination with technical progress, and it isn't always satisfied by technological outgrowth.

John Sitek
John Sitek

I'm not worried about any of them. They can protest all they want. I just think that maybe their time could be better spent researching better ways to produce cleaner fossil-fueled power generation. Coal power isn't going anywhere soon, so why not try to make it cleaner? I think it's great that they're not skipping classes to try and get their point across. I just think there's better (and more realistic) ways to not only be heard, but to also bring more attention to creating additional technology for upgrading existing power generation. Where I went to school really has no bearing on this matter; not sure why you asked that question.

James Harris
James Harris

How do you know that isn't exactly what they're doing John? You're talking about a group made up of not just students but LEADERS AMONG STUDENTS that are not abandoning class work to do this, and the bulk of the majors represented are environmental sciences and engineering. These are the best students at the best school and you're worried about them? Where did YOU go to school?

John Sitek
John Sitek

^James, that was good for a chuckle.

James Harris
James Harris

I wish I could afford to pay everyone's tuition if it would mean teaching them to stand up for what is right. Clearly that lesson was utterly lost on most of the commenters. If only there were a way to send you all to a place where everyone shut up and towed the party line as you seem to wish for and we could enjoy the fruits of righteous protest without your bullshit naysaying.

John Sitek
John Sitek

Instead of protesting maybe they should study up on creating new technology to improve the energy resources currently in use.

Justin M Politte
Justin M Politte

LoL. "Worrying about better things," Yippee? Like all the dire issues you post about? Pictures of food, gay bars, clothing, cats...... Maybe you should read up on the coal industry. Seems you've missed a few things, that you deem "unimportant". But Hey, God Bless 'Merica! LMFUCKINGASSO PS- Be sure to Thank, those damn liberals for your Human Rights! ;-*

Yippee Skippee
Yippee Skippee

#Magical! These kids should be worrying about better things!

Justin M Politte
Justin M Politte

Yippee Skippee, are you going to tell me you're a republican/conservative? After your comment, PLEASE, say Yes! With your gay ass. LMFAO -_-

Yippee Skippee
Yippee Skippee

John Sitek Liberals don't consider their precious I phones as electronics.

Yippee Skippee
Yippee Skippee

Arrest them all look like an underground homeland terrorist group.

John Sitek
John Sitek

I assume those same students don't own a TV or any other electronic devices.

Steve Mincer
Steve Mincer

lmao. one of these douches was yapping in front of vintage vinyl on record store day. almost unintentionally hilarious. "i hate big coal, but… ok… but… i know most of the records you bought today was made using power that came from burning coal, but… ok… see… it's like… ok, george bush… "bush" has 4 letters like "coal" has 4 letters, and that's why!… and this coal dude… he's like mean to people, and that's bad, but… the factory where my t-shirt was made and my cell phone was made probably doesn't treat their people any better…" just a rambling bunch of liberal nonsense.

dalediversity
dalediversity topcommenter

They can help put Peabody out of business by unplugging their iPhones 

Rick Kohn
Rick Kohn

and the students and mom and dad still give them their $$$.

James Harris
James Harris

What does that even mean? You want your idiot meaningless comment seen before all the others? Yay! You won the special Olympics!

Benjamin A. Snow
Benjamin A. Snow

inb4 paranoid niggas who're addicted to "1984" be like "Police State"

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