Appalachian Basin

Rogue Anti-Fracking Groups Use Independence Day for ‘Most Kid Friendly’ Protest Camp Ever

Most Ohio families celebrated the Fourth of July with their children by participating in activities such as barbecuing, watching fireworks and taking in patriotic parades. But that wasn’t the case for everyone. Appalachia Resist! – the most rogue anti-fracking group in the state – gathered in Athens, not to celebrate the national holiday, but instead to train children in “workshop responsibilities” that included “jail solidarity, indigenous resistance, direct action, and pipeline construction/fracking infrastructure” obstruction.

Sadly, this is not the first time this group (and others) have exploited children as part of their “Keep It In the Ground” cause, but it’s certainly one of the most extreme incidents, with these kids presumably forced by their activist parents to spend Independence Day braving Ohio’s record high temperatures for an agenda that very few in the Buckeye State support. What’s more is that Appalachia Resist! once again partnered with Earth First! for this Fourth of July “kid-friendly” workshop that included such topics as “monkeywrenching” – an activity both groups have a history of using as part of their repertoire of criminal activities.

According to Earth First!’s website, monkeywrenching is defined as:

“Monkeywrenching: Ecotage, ecodefense, billboard bandits, desurveying, road reclamation, tree spiking, even fire. All of these terms describe the unlawful sabotage of industrial extraction and development equipment, as a means of striking at the Earth’s destroyers where they commit their crimes and hitting them where they feel it most—in their profit margins.” (emphasis added)

Earth First! co-founder  Mike Roselle has described monkeywrenching as, “[M]ore than just sabotage, and you’re g*ddamn right, it’s revolutionary! This is jihad.”  As EID highlighted six year ago, Earth First Journal! is essentially a roadmap to getting away with illegal acts of destruction. To that point, the workshop included exactly that — a roadmap for blockades, pipeline protest skills and media strategies. In fact, the groups are even holding two workshops on “zombie equipment” ?! (Perhaps that’s the so-called “kid-friendly” portion of the workshop responsibilities…)

But I digress. Violence and the use of children by Appalachia Resist! is concerning, and even more so given the group’s previous history of both. Recall that just last year, this same group put out a disturbing video, narrated by a child, saying “fracking kills” and “the danger is especially high for children, babies and nursing mothers,” as well as a host of other absurd claims. The video also features Appalachia Resist! leader Peter Gibbons-Ballew, who was recently charged with civil disobedience, inducing panic, and hindering and failure to comply, after shutting down a busy intersection by chaining himself to a pipe in downtown Columbus.

Warning: once you’ve seen this video, it can’t be unseen.

Fast-forward a year later, and this group has apparently doubled down on its continued use of children to advance its campaign. In fact, ahead of the Independence Day “kid-friendly” workshop, Appalachia Resist! dedicated an entire paragraph to encouraging people to bring children out to the event. According to their own website,

“We’re trying to make this year’s rendezvous the most kid friendly rendezvous ever, with workshop, responsibilities, and discussions, with and for the kids. You can help by bringing your kids, or encouraging and helping your friends who have kids, to attend.” (emphasis added)

Ironically, the appeal for children to attend comes just after the group warns of hot temperatures, and the following,

“There will be many insects including mosquitoes and ticks.  There is a high chance you will encounter poison ivy.  Nights around here can be very noisy with the matting/kinship/territory calls of frogs, insects, birds, and mammals that are active at night.  There are three venomous snakes in the area; rattlesnakes, copperheads and possibly cottonmouths. You are unlikely to be lucky enough to see one of them. Coyote & bobcats are the largest predators that live in the area, although eastern black bear have been sighted passing through.”

According to eyewitness accounts, about 30 vehicles – roughly half of which drove in (using fossil fuels) from out-of-state locations as far away as North Carolina, California and Oregon – were parked outside of the event. And while that is a decidedly low turnout, the fact remains that every major criminal incident committed against fracking in Ohio has included a member of this group. And now they are indoctrinating children into these violent efforts.

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