Tom Jefferson, Photo Journalist

tom-jeffersonIt was a cold and rainy December day in Pennsylvania when Photo Journalist, Tom Jefferson grabbed his camera and headed to Mars, PA where a peaceful protest against Rex Energy was taking place.

This protest was small compared to previous ones. A handful of people dressed for the weather. Protestors included parents and grandparents who are concerned about Rex Energy plans to drill several natural gas well about 1/2 mile from the high school.

Earlier in December 2015, a Pennsylvania Judge upheld a local zoning ordinance which would allow Rex Energy to drill.

mars pa workerWhen Jefferson arrived at the site he expected to film and talk to the peaceful protestors, but what he got was much more.

A man shows up and begins by harassing the peaceful protestors, calling them hippies, telling them to “get a job”, and complains about his taxes. This rhetoric is all too familiar to many of those who oppose the activities of the fossil fuel industry.

This is where things took a decidedly racist turn.

Jefferson describes the incident:

I was photographing a peaceful protest aimed at Rex Energy in Mars, Pa. At one point during the day a worker showed up. He started by insulting the protesters. Then he turned his attention to me. I just let him talk and kept the camera rolling.

A video of the incident may be seen here: One Of The Many Face of Racism in America . (Contains profanity and racial slurs.)

UPDATE: 12/30/2015
The man who uttered the racist slurs has been identified as an employee of MMC Land Management.  Late last night the following appeared on MMC Land Management Facebook page:

mmc land


The Way We Live
Jefferson is one of the thousand average citizens who have donated their own time, energy and money to stop destructive fossil fuel industry.

For the past year, Jefferson has been documenting average people across the country fighting to end extreme energy extraction and address climate change. His filming of the peaceful protest in Mars is part of his upcoming documentary “The Way We Live”.

way we live trailerHis plan for the completed film, which will be 90 min., is to distribute the movie to anyone who needs it free of charge. The point is to bring awareness to THE WAY WE LIVE and the way people fight against big corporations that put our health and safety at risk.

Release date is expected to be January 1, 2016.

He needs YOUR HELP.   You can help with your donations at .

200 Feet
As drilling expands in Pennsylvania, wells have gotten closer to schools. A 2013 report from the environmental group Penn Environment found 26 wells permitted in the state within a half-mile from a school.

Regulators have taken notice. The Department of Environmental Protection has proposed changes to Chapter 78, the state’s oil and gas regulations, which would add schools and playgrounds to a list of protected “public resources”–like archaeological sites, parks, and game lands.

The rule would allow the DEP to impose conditions on drilling near schools, though the department must prove the conditions are necessary. Those rules would kick in only if the area of disturbance for a well pad is within 200 feet of a school or playground.

Pipelines and related facilities, like compressor stations, are also making their way through residential neighborhoods and near schools.   This has given growth to even more local grassroots groups seeking to stop the industrialization of their communities.

With our local, state and federal government snugly tucked into the pockets of the fossil fuel industry, it’s up to us, the real people to stand up for ourselves.


©2015 by Dory Hippauf



  1. Thanks for the reality check even though it’s an utterly ugly story. Tom Jefferson is one of the kindest of gentlemen who is totally undeserving of being targeted by this sick person. KDKA TV didn’t catch this exchange but I’m glad Tom keep on filming. Be careful out there. There are dangerous people with little to no humanity to conduct their behavior. Blessings to people holding their ground at the Geyer site and Tom.

  2. I sent the video to three news outlets in the Pittsburgh area to attempt to shine light on the horrific display of ignorance and racism. I doubt it will get picked up but the video should be viral.

  3. You should find that racist’s employer and send them a link of his behavior. Keep sending it until they respond, he needs to learn

  4. It’s really important to recognize Tom’s humanity – he’s a friend to justice. It’s also important to realize that the “small” protest was small because it wasn’t just some demonstration. This was a blockade. The grandparents involved fully intended to risk arrest. There wasn’t room for a large demonstration. This was an escalation from the previous “bigger” actions.

    Why was Tom there? Tom was there because, unlike many other journalists, Tom isn’t new to direct action. He knows how to get the story, he knows how to be close to the action but he also knows how to cover the story without getting in the way. Tom is the go-to media guy for bold direct actions like the one he was documenting.

    This was a “big” action that also turned into a teachable moment. Tom’s attacker showed us the ugly underbelly of all extractive industries – they don’t give a damn about people – that’s why they can frack 1/2 mile from a campus that houses 3200 students, it’s why this guy crows about taxes and jobs even those those (pitiful though they are) are built on the exploitation of people in that community, it’s why Tom is “the other.”

    Tom’s documentary tells the story of our movement. It is very, VERY worthy of support. Tom is activist media. He’s telling our story. There aren’t nearly enough people like Tom Jefferson.

  5. Correction to earlier reditt misrepresentation…John Pisone did NOT work for Cleveland Brothers…but he was fired from the comapny he DID work for… “Today, we were disgusted to learn that one of MMC’s former employees used racial slurs and made racially charged comments during a peaceful protest in Mars, Pennsylvania, outside of work hours at a location with which we have no affiliation. We are sorry that this incident occurred. Whether at work or not, we do not condone hate speech – EVER. Inclusion and diversity are among MMC’s core values. We believe in equality for everyone, regardless of race, age, gender identity, ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation. MMC has terminated this employee and will never do business with him again in the future”.

  6. This goes out to. Tom Jefferson,The Photo Journalist, Dude I’m proud of you holding your temper and not just kicking the shit out of that dumb ass talking down to the peaceful protesters..I would have laid that racist pig out, He is whats making it hard for Whites & Blacks to get along, all with the Help of Trump., 2015-16 and still all this fricken hate from both sides.. It needs to end, and as we can see the help will not be coming from 90% of the Politicians.

    • It seemed to me the naughty one was trying to provoke the cameraman. For a second, I thought he would assault the cameramen. I’m sorry to u camerman. Keep up the good work

  7. The whole incident was very sad. I wonder why, when the incredibly obnoxious guy was asking “what are you doing here”(not that he really wanted to know, but still) no one took the obvious route of explaining what they were protesting and why? Calm didacticism in the face of this sort of idiocy?

  8. Mr. Jefferson,
    Although the comments that were said to you were disgusting, you showed true class by not replying. It takes a big man to stare hatred, ignorance and racism in the face and take the high road. Hopefully one day you will never have to do this again, but let’s face it, look who the comments were coming from. Racism = Ignorance. Some people will just never learn.

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