Sunday, June 1, 2008

Kennecott thugs strike U.P. activist


Since the shameful decision of Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) to approve permits to Kennecott’s controversial nickel sulfide mine on the Upper Peninsula’s Yellow Dog Plains, the opposition has mounted a variety of legal, administrative, and political challenges that have delayed the project. Despite growing public opposition to the project, Kennecott has tried to portray the opposition as an unrepresentative minority. This is exactly what Kennecott tried to do in Ladysmith. In both cases, the tactics of the company divided neighbor against neighbor and split the community into hostile factions.

In Michigan, these tactics have led to a violent assault on Cynthia Pryor’s husband, Robert, while Cynthia was attending a contested case hearing challenging MDEQ’s decision to permit Kennecott’s sulfide mine. He was assaulted by three unknown males in the late hours of the evening at his cabin which is located in a remote area near Big Bay. The three identified themselves by asking if he “was one of those anti-mining guys.” When he asked them to leave they knocked him to the ground and beat him, leaving him unconscious outside in the freezing rain. Cynthia, one of the most outspoken critics of the proposed mine, called the crime “beyond appalling, shocking and distressing – in my mind it is attempted murder. Bob is 60 years old, was attacked by three younger men and left to the elements…The fear and shock reverberating through our small community is something that should make everyone take note. What are the stakes in this project that would lead to such violence against a citizen of this state – unprovoked and at their home?”

Mining companies have increasingly resorted to violent tactics against opponents to mining projects in the Third World, but this is the first instance where pro-mining individuals have used violence to intimidate those who dare criticize ecologically dangerous mining projects in Michigan, Wisconsin or Minnesota. It is important that bureaucrats, company officials and politicians hear from citizens who are outraged at this assault. Their names and phone numbers are:

Governor Jennifer Granholm 517 373-3400

DEQ Director Steve Chester 517 373-7917

DNR Director Rebecca Humphries 517 373-2329

Jon Cherry – Kennecott Minerals 906 225-5791

Tom Albanese – CEO Rio Tinto (Kennecott’s parent company) 011 44 20 7781-2000 (London Main #)

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