After being sued for $30 million by a corporate landfill owner for "speaking their truth in order to protect their community," four residents of Uniontown, Alabama—a poor, predominantly Black town with a median per capita income of around $8,000—are fighting back.
It really unbelievable how far this has gone. The mere threat of such suits against advocacy groups will stifle said groups.
This is also the type of stuff Trump famous for and using courts to sue is how the Ron Paul type libertarians claim citizens gain redress from corporations in lieu of regulations.
Well, that’s corporate/money speech at work –
but, eh … what of the citizen’s right to free speech?
The Uniontown, Alabama case is a preview of what will occur daily in all signatory nations once Obama’s TTP and TTIP are enacted. The only difference is that TPP and TTIP enabled lawsuits will be decided by corporate tribunals, not public courts.
Black Belt Citizens are heroes and deserve our deepest respect and support. I’ll be sharing this story with anti-racist workshop attendees. Solidarity!
Beautiful is it not?
Follow the paper trail and you will see how this landfill was permitted. Ernest Kaufman is the pres/ceo of Green Group Holdings. Here is the kicker: “Ernest Kaufman is a Founding Member & CEO of GreenFirst LLC. GreenFirst LLC is an environmental permitting firm which focuses on permitting MSW landfills, C&D landfills and wetland restoration banks.” Interesting how the use of “Green” in so many polluting entities’ names has exploded in the last decade. This waste management fim is supposedly not permitted to handle toxic waste nor is the site in Uniontown permitted to handle toxic waste, which is what coal dust IS…TOXIC. In fact, this landfill receives the LARGEST amount of coal dust (from coal fired industrial plants including energy generating) in the entire nation! Kaufman also was on city and county councils in the region…nothing like back-scratching with your former buddies. Kaufman also worked with Allied Waste that is now Republic Services Group, nation’s second largest non-toxic(???) waste management (behind Waste Management Inc) for one year. He was only there a short time but obviously it was long enough for him to see a golden opportunity to make a financial killing handling waste management. Once again, profit-taking subsumes the health and well-being of all life.
I am sick at heart about the way waste management companies perpetually and consistently target rural and poor communities for their poisonous landfills nationwide. And all their rhetoric about being “green” or environmentally friendly is patently false. The EPA does not have enough staff (thanks to the reduction of staff and funding started by Raygun in his first year in office that has been carried out to this day…over 34 years of decimation) to conduct inspections and oversight of landfills or even the already-designated Super Fund sites.
And this makes corporate news in 3, 2, 1,… minus infinity
Well it seems to work for how many private citizens groups can afford a case that goes to the supreme court and with a court biased toward private industry who dares? Get the money out of politics and this will change.
I believe Alabama has their own gang for handling these matters called Alabama Department of Environmental Management. A misnomer to the nth degree. Last time I had any dealings with them, they could not find their way to the mailbox and back. They never met a polluter they did not love.
“This is also the type of stuff Trump famous for”
Yes, that was exactly the thought I had about stuff Trump is famous for, like his golf course he built in Scotland around 2010 or 2011.
Here’s a link to a past Bill Moyers episode interviewing a documentary filmmaker about Trump’s handling of the local native inhabitants of the area, when he came to town to buy up most of the area where he thought everyone would love him forever by buying them out so they could escape their rustic rural farming lifestyle.
About 30 minutes of pure Donald Drumph style and class.
Sued for 30 million ???
They should get PAID 30 million for trying to save the environment .
And the USA thought that the British red-coats were bad bastards!
You have had your republic; it sounds like that you need to win it back.
This is not new. Such lawsuits are called SLAPP suits - “Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation”. The lawsuit can often be completely frivolous, but the legal costs of defending even the most baseless legal claims will still ruin the activists, compelling that they stop.
Competent Lawyers should respond to such company offers with demands on the defendants behalf. Company law will protect this company but since they have stated their conditions which will have to be refused, its within those conditions that defense can forage to demand a fair trial. These people and their organised support are a credit to what the USA should have become? They are the real face of what si required to fight for dignity. They must remain resilient and know they have supporters worldwide. ‘Do not be afraid’ brothers and sisters, you have all the support required to win out and all you need to do is believe that you can walk straight through the injected fear. You are a credit to human endeavour. Good Luck and God Bless!
And the amazing thing is that the corporation’s lawyers can impose things on citizens that would be absolutely prohibited by the constitution if the government tried to do it. The corporation may not be able to stifle free speech, or freedom from personal searches and seizures under penalty of imprisonment or death like a state might try; instead, they impose such things under penalty of personal financial ruin, homelessness and possible starvation. I see little difference. Yet the ability of the corporations or rich individuals to do this is actually considered a fundamental “freedom” of "free enterprise and free markets and all the other fucking capitalist happy horseshit!
There is and has been no grater scam every imposed on a people than this sickening conflation of capitalism with personal freedom.
As I read this article I am saddened this country has come to this but then the TPP came to mind. If it passes this will be the norm. We will then be slaves to the corporations, exactly the way they want it. So thank you Obama for selling out our country. I hope it haunts you till the day you die.
There is some dark history in just about every corner of this land called U.S.A. Here in California, that is history is quite dark indeed: two tidal waves of genocide to the many Indigenous peoples who called this land home for millennia: the first wave with Spanish Missions led by sainted-in-2016-genocide-leader Junipero Serra, a wave that swept horrifically up the western side of the state as far north as the Bay Area–then a brief relative respite under the semi-feudal, multi-racial arrangements of Mexican lords–and then the second and final-solution wave of genocide by Euro Americans that exploded out of San Francisco and the central Sierra foothills with the U.S. California Gold Rush. Enslavement of Native Americans in the California “free state” included widespread rape of children and women, killing parents and kidnapping their children, massacre after massacre in response to Native people killing a cow to fend off starvation, or just for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Murder State: California’s Native American Genocide, 1846-1873 should be required reading to properly educate our California youth, but instead the only time public school children really learn any California history is in 3rd and 4th Grade, and it almost never includes mention of the Euro American’s genocide of Native Californians (or the genocidal origins and profoundly degradating environmental impact of cow-pig-horse-oxen animal agriculture and resource-extraction ideologies brought in by Euro Americans), instead treating the whole Gold Rush from a white perspective as if the disappearance of the Native Americans were as natural a phenomenon as the outgoing tide.
When we actually learn this history, we can begin to understand how this dark history is perpetuated forward into the genocidal wars for empire of today, in an unchanged cloth of American Exceptionalism. When we learn that it’s wrong to kill dark people, too, and yet such wrongs are often not even seen as having happened, much less having been wrong, well, then, we might consider that it’s wrong today to kill in the name of any empire, including the U.S. one.
Of course, in most states, the State DEPs are supposed to carry out the EPA’s enforcement functions, but they are totally captured by corporate interests. a couple weeks ago, Pennsylvania’s DEP secretary was fired for sending e-mails to activist groups in expressing support of pending tougher oil/gas drilling regulations - which the politicians in the state General Assy. are currently dismantling.
“DEP” stands for “Don’t Expect Protection”.
Wow, I’m glad to hear some of your history here! I was raised by a single mom who taught at City College of SF for decades–and has recently been part of the struggle to expose the truth not just about the corporate takeover of the unelected community college accreditors in CA who wield the power to destroy colleges like SF’s to make way for the online for-profit outfits who deliver impoverished education at a high cost… but my mom has also spoken out about the self-centered teachers who want to ignore how the English Dept. at City College has a terrible record of creating so many levels of hoops for English Language Learners and other low-scorers to jump through that many of them just give up before they can earn any transferable credits in English, much less a degree (and also give up because they can’t afford the rising tuition costs, which are not super high, but high enough to be a barrier to very low income students). The community colleges in CA still work great for many middle-class white kids, but for others not so much–the dropout rates are starkly different by race and class. When teachers fail to address our own class and race biases, we can find it easy to rail against corporate policies that threaten our profession while ignoring the deeper and longstanding class and race and gender and other hierarchies that we white and middle-class and heterosexual and U.S. citizen teachers have benefitted from, earning our paychecks while many of our students languish. These multiple layers of inequality have to all be addressed, or it will be divide and conquer. In SF it is the students more than any group who seem to be leading the way to a strong vision for liberating education. We teachers need to revolutionize our unions to stop this dead-end hobnobbing with Democrats just to maintain certain eroding privileges, and instead join organizing on the basis of universal human rights and sustainable living and society. We need to teach to these visions, too.
I am very glad to hear of some of the successes you had in the community colleges where you worked. Such education needs to become widespread, bringing sunlight into all the dark corners of our collective mind and soul.