History - Coal Mine violence in 1989
The United Mine Workers of
America went on strike against Pittston
Coal Group and New Beckley Mine.
Almost immediately the coal fields of
southwest Virginia, West Virginia, and
adjoining states erupted with confrontations
between striking and non-striking
workers and law enforcement officers.
A Chief Deputy U.S.
Marshal, back to camera, explains a court order to two
pickets at the gate to a mine owned by the Twin Branch Coal Company in
West Virginia. Deputy Marshals, third from left and far right, were
part of the Marshals Service contingent sent to enforce court orders
when the United Mine Workers of America went on strike.
John Himelrick / Charleston Daily Mail
the course of the myriad of civil and
criminal litigation that followed, the task
fell to the Marshals Service to enforce the
orders of the Courts.
Marshals Service personnel to restore
order, ensure access to coal fields and
public utilities, and prevent violence
among the literally thousands of people,
throughout the vast geographical region
and under the most dangerous circumstances.
Immediate meetings with union officials, mine personnel, and supporters,
coupled with a 24-hour a day Marshals Service presence, brought an end
to most of the long-standing violence. In southwest Virginia, the
Virginia State Police provided extensive support to the Marshals in
dealing with the crisis.
Charged with enforcing state law and court
orders in connection with the strike, the
State Police were sent en masse to southwest
Virginia and worked side-by-side
with Deputy Marshals.
Although most of the issues surrounding
the original strike against Pittson were resolved, confrontations continued
Logan County, West Virginia. Marshals
arrested five pickets for blocking a bridge
leading to coal operations, damaging a
truck, and assaulting Deputy Marshals.
Deputy Marshals, far left and middle of photo, arrest mine workers for
blocking a bridge leading to the Rum Creek Coal plant, damaging a truck, and
assaulting federal officers.
AP/Wide World Photos