Prevent Police Brutality Against Protesters in West Virginia

Target: West Virginia Chiefs of Police Association

Goal: Launch an investigation into the harassment faced by at least one peaceful environmental protestor in Lincoln County, West Virginia

On July 28, 20 peaceful protesters were arrested at a strip mining site in West Virginia, where they were voicing their objections to the coal mining industry and in particular to the methods practiced at that site. In and of itself the event was unsurprising, though somewhat dismaying. More out of the ordinary was the report released from a member of Radical Action for Mountain Peoples’ Survival (RAMPS), the group that sent the protestors, who alleges that he has received communication from one of the arrested protesters, Dustin Steele, indicating severe police brutality in the way that he was handled after his arrest. According to Steele’s communication, after being brought to a local jail near Barboursville, West Virginia and processed, he was led to a separate room from the other protesters where he was beaten to an unknown degree by several police officers.

Several of Steele’s companions also reported facing harassment from police during and after their arrest, although not to the degree that Steele did. RAMPS is now asking that Steele be moved to a medical care facility immediately, and that a thorough investigation into the nature of his treatment be launched. Inform the West Virginia Chiefs of Police Association that police brutality will not be tolerated, and ask that the demands of RAMPS regarding the care of their activist be pursued right away.


Dear West Virginia Chiefs of Police Association,

I am writing to express my concern regarding the treatment faced by Dustin Steele, an environmental activist and peaceful protester, following his recent arrest at a strip mining site in Lincoln County, West Virginia for trespassing and obstructing an officer. Communication received by Radical Action for Mountain Peoples’ Survival (RAMPS), the group with which Steele and his fellow protesters were working, indicates a possibility that Steele was separated from his group and beaten by police officers after arriving at Western Regional Jail following his arrest. Several of Steele’s companions also reported injurious treatment at the hands of police to a lighter degree.

RAMPS has demanded that Dustin Steele be moved to a medical facility and a thorough investigation be launched into the treatment he received. I would like to voice my support for these actions. I would also like to ask that the West Virginia Police Department learn vigilance in preventing, investigating, and erasing police brutality. This is a serious issue and a major danger to activists and others which I would thank you to be aware of as much as possible.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Flickr via quinn.anya

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