The United Mine Workers plan to bring their dispute with Patriot Coal to Charleston next week. The gathering on Monday will start at the Charleston Civic Center and promises to be one of the biggest rallies in the capital city in quite a while.
UMWA officials say more than 50-bus loads of people are already planning to be in town for the April 1st event. The demonstrators will come from seven states, including West Virginia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Virginia. A large crowd of local residents from the Charleston area is also expected to turn out for the event.
“We’ve been working with the United Mine Workers people very closely to try and make this as smooth as possible,” said Lt. Shawn Williams of the Charleston PD. “It’s going to be during the lunchtime hours downtown and we’re going to try and impede the motoring public as little as possible during that time.”
After a rally at the Civic Center, the crowd will march on Civic Center Drive to Virginia Street, East on Virginia to Court Street, and then down Court Street and reassemble at Laidley Tower, the headquarters of Patriot Coal.
During recent protests in St. Louis over the same matter, several members of the union were arrested for civil disobedience. There are indications similar action may be taken in Charleston, but Williams isn’t sure what to expect.
“We discussed what happened in St. Louis and the possibility of what’s going to happen here,” Williams said. “They’re keeping us up to date on what their intentions are. We’ll be prepared.”
Williams said the police are also coordinating with the security team at Laidley Tower on what their wishes will be during the protest.