Nearly 200 journalists, environmental activists and representatives of public interest organizations (Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, Public Citizen, 350.org and others) gathered in front of BP’s headquarters downtown today to stage a citizen’s arrest of the oil giant for the Gulf of Mexico gusher that has been fouling coastlines, killing marine life and devastating Gulf coast communities.
The assembled crowd called for a clean energy future and one that doesn’t put profits over people.
Rev. Lennox Yearwood, Jr., a resident of Shreveport, Louisiana who works with the Hip Hop Caucus said of BP, "Your greed is killing my people," and urged President Obama that "this is not the time to play politics."
Along with 11 workers who died immediately after the blowout explosion, Rev. Lennox said BP is "now killing everybody on the Gulf Coast and we must stand up now." That last part ignited the crowd, who started chanting and cheering. Among the chants:
"We want safe jobs and clean energy, no more oil spill! Arrest BP!"
And while the Department of Justice announced the beginning of a criminal investigation into the oil spill, many are angry over BP’s negligence and our government’s pandering to industry.
Underneath a 13-foot tall inflatable oil barrel, signs mocking BP chief executive Tony Hayward’s "I’d like my life back" comment were in full display. Group leaders read a litany of criminal negligence complaints against Haywood and presented a prison jumpsuit fitted for the BP chief. The assembled crowd join a chorus of others who question why Mr. Haywood is still on the job.
Forty-six days ago (and counting), the Deepwater Horizon oil rig had a blowout, and while officials initially dumbed down the severity of the disaster, they now admit that the Gulf spill has surpassed the Exxon Valdez spill in volume. The full scale of environmental damage due to the spill is still uncertain, but Florida residents are now face-to-face with its aftermath.
It’s now more important than ever that our government steer us toward a better, clean energy future—without oil spills on our horizon.
As Rev. Lennox said: "There is a better way: clean energy… leave the fossil fuels in the ground."