Was Hobet 45 Protester Severely Beaten After Arrest?

If so, is he now receiving proper medical care?

Over the past day and a half, unconfirmed reports have come in regarding one of the 20 protesters arrested for temporarily shutting down the Hobet 45 coal mine. (They were protesting mountain top removal practices.) Initially, I did not pass this on because these reports are not first hand and I am not a trained or experienced journalist. I have neither the time nor expertise to thoroughly investigate or confirm this kind of story, especially one that is this serious. I was also concerned about the safety of those involved. The following statements are forwarded excerpts from forwarded email- coming through two separate channels:

Received via e-mail on evening of 7/30/12 (original date uncertain):

“I have a report from yesterday afternoon that Dorian and all the other women arrested in the protest are together in jail, healthy and in good spirits.

Unfortunately, the men have not fared as well. Dustin Steele, the twenty year old son and grandson of WV coal miners, was taken out of his cell yesterday and badly beaten by police. Other inmates reported that as he left the room where they hurt him, he struggled to or was unable to walk.”

Received via e-mail, 7/31/12 (original date also 7/31/12):

“On Saturday 50 people occupied the mountaintop removal site of the Hoget Mine in West Virginia. Twenty of them were arrested and have been in  jail ever since. Three or four people arrested were from Asheville. One of the protestors, Dustin Steele, was injured by police, and is being denied medical care.”

After speaking with RAMPS organizers, I contacted the ACLU to get information. The ACLU national office directed me to the West Virginia chapter. The ACLU in West Virginia will only provide legal advice if a request is sent in writing by the person filing the complaint. This means Steele himself would have to write a paper letter and then send it from jail. I was told people often send such complaints from jail. It is unclear how viable an option this would be in Mr. Steele’s case. I passed this information on to RAMPS organizers, who are already working with two lawyers, and cannot speak directly to the situation beyond that.

Now, this information is now being posted. It is in the hopes that someone experienced in investigative reporting will consider pursuing these very serious allegations further.

  ~ Nuevaspora
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