Thursday, March 18, 2010

Civil disobedience at the Land Board

Photo credit: Murphy Woodhouse, Missoula

UPDATE: Land Board votes 3-2 in favor of accepting Arch Coal's bid for Otter Creek. Schweitzer, McCulloch and Lindeen voted "Yes," while Bullock and Juneau voted "No."

UPDATE: All five protesters have been arrested and removed. They are from a Missoula-based group called "Northern Rockies Rising Tide." They are: Shelby Cunliffe, Max Granger, Suzie Rosette, Michail Phelps and Genevieve Schroeder. There were five police cars parked outside the south entrance of the capitol.

The Land Board has resumed the meeting. There appear to be a few more Rising Tide members in the audience.


Police handcuffed and removed one protester at 11:10. Police appear to be negotiating with the other four members of the Otter Creek Five. At least seven armed officers are in the room trying to remove the protesters who are opposed to the state leasing the Otter Creek Coal tracts.


OK. So it's been a while since I blogged. More on that later.

But I thought a little live blogging might be in order since five protesters just hi-jacked the state Land Board meeting.

Just as Secretary of State Linda McCulloch motioned that the board accept Arch Coal’s $86 million bid for the state-owned Otter Creek coal tracts, five people who appeared to be in their 20s and early 30s, locked arms and began chanting “Hands off Otter Creek. You’re not listening.”

A visibly annoyed Gov. Brian Schweitzer ordered police to remove the protesters. As I write this at 11:05 a.m., the Land Board has been in recess for about 15 minutes and the police still have yet to remove the protesters. The three women and two men, I’ll call them the Otter Creek 5, appear to be willing to go the distance on this one.

I’ll update you when I know more, but if you can tune into TV-MT, check it out.