A West Virginia hospital made a very unique request earlier this week. Authorities at St. Mary’s Medical Center asked a local judge for a restraining order against the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition (OVEC), which had announced plans to protest outside of a coal-boosting event at the hospital on Tuesday.
Janet Keating, OVEC's executive director, explained that the goal of the rally was to ask why a facility dedicated to health would host an event that promoted the coal industry, which is clearly linked to many public health problems.
“There's been a lot of silence from our state leaders about these health studies and the impacts on communities around coal,” said Keating. “It's a mystery to me why a hospital would want to host this. Our whole thing is, 'Let's not have it at a hospital, where you're supposed to be helping people.'”
Hoping to stifle such discussion, while claiming that the rally could impede the services conducted at the facility, St. Mary’s requested a temporary restraining order.
In the courtroom, representatives for OVEC assured the judge that the gathering would be a “peaceful, lawful protest that will not trespass onto the hospital’s property.”
And after the judge sided with the coalition, that’s exactly how the protest went down - as a peaceful and lawful reminder to Huntington area residents that the coal industry does not have the best interests of public health in mind.