A quiet Saturday in downtown turned boisterous, with hundreds of protesters rallying against Dominion’s plan to dump treated coal ash wastewater into the James River. Activists carried signs and chanted, “Coal ash kills, no dumping, no spills,” many of them dressing in garb resembling street carnival performers.
They marched though the streets escorted by police, starting at the Capitol bell tower and winding through several blocks before ending on the Capitol steps. There, eight people who refused to leave were arrested.
Organizers denounced Dominion for its coal ash cleanup plans and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, a proposed 550-mile long natural gas pipeline that will go through West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina. Dominion has said it’s following environmental guidelines with the river and trying to work with property owners on the pipeline.
Protesters also called on Gov. Terry McAuliffe, someone they consider to be cooperating with Dominion’s plans, to address their concerns while they occupied the steps. He never appeared. After more than an hour, police issued a warning for the crowd to disperse — reminiscent of the women’s rights activists whose arrests made national headlines in 2012. Eight people stayed on the steps and were arrested by Capitol Police, assisted by the Virginia State Police.