CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Mountaintop removal protesters continued their weeklong march to Blair Mountain on Tuesday, despite setbacks with their sleeping arrangements on Monday night.
According to an update on the march's website, the "County Commissioner of Boone" came to John Slack Park in Racine around 10 p.m. and ordered marchers to leave the park or be arrested, "overriding prior verbal permission" to camp at the park.
"We decided to leave because we aren't marching to take a stand at this park or confront the Boone County Commissioner; we're here to March on Blair Mountain, confront coal industry power and demand preservation of Blair Mountain, its history, and end (mountaintop removal)," a poster called Becca wrote on the blog.
Marchers were instead shuttled to "the backup sleeping space," according to the website.
A representative at the march's Marmet headquarters, who asked not to be named, said the protesters "returned to a space they had been sleeping in before." Marchers stayed in Kanawha City and Marmet on Sunday night before the march began Monday morning.
Boone County Commission President Mickey Brown said no one is allowed to camp in county parks. They all close at 10 p.m. and have no overnight security guards, he said.
"That's always been the rule. The gates aren't always shut, but it's closed. If you bend the rules for that bunch, what's to stop someone else from coming in?" he said.
He said county administrator Jim Gore and parks director Russell Thomas went to the park Monday night to ask the campers to leave.
"As far as I know, there wasn't any real incident. Everybody left, and it was a pretty good situation. They're going to be going through Boone County for the next three days, and we want them to get to their destination safe," he said.
Boone County Commissioner Atholl Halstead said he visited John Slack Park Monday afternoon. He said marchers were already filing in around 3 p.m.
"They had one shelter plumb full of backpacks and tents. At some point, they set their tents up, and at 10 o'clock, our administrator, assistant administrator and parks director told them they could not stay," he said.
"We let them stay a little bit longer because they were getting their food. They said they would leave after they ate," he said.