Duke Energy coal plant protesters arrested, shocked with Tasers

Eight people were arrested yesterday during a protest at the construction site for North Carolina-based Duke Energy's new Cliffside coal-fired power plant west of Charlotte. Two of those arrested were first shocked with Taser guns after locking themselves to bulldozers. The protesters were charged with trespassing and resisting arrest.

The North Carolina protest was one in a series of actions that took place as part of Fossil Fools Day, an international event organized by Rising Tide with help from other groups including the Rainforest Action Network and Earth First!.

"In the face of catastrophic climate change, building a new coal plant is tantamount to signing a death sentence for our generation," said Matt Wallace, a farmer who lives near Duke's plant and one of the protesters who locked himself to a bulldozer.

Avram Friedman is the executive director of the Canary Coalition, one of the North Carolina groups fighting Duke's plant. He said the police arrested the wrong people, since the protesters were trying to prevent a crime. Those who should be arrested are the N.C. Division of Air Quality officials who granted the facility a permit despite the fact that it doesn't meet federal standards for mercury emissions and Duke Energy officials who started construction before the permit appeals process was over, he said:

They should be arrested for defying scientific evidence, knowingly constructing a powerful instrument that will result in the death, disease and suffering of tens of thousands of people from heart and lung diseases, emphysema, asthma, chronic bronchitis. They should be arrested for contaminating water ways with toxic mercury resulting in neurological damage to children, causing autism and learning disablilities.

Other actions took place yesterday in New York, Boston, the United Kingdom, South Africa and Australia.

(Photo of Cliffside protest by Liz Veazey)