Cross-posted from EnergyActionCoalition.org
“We want safe jobs and clean energy
No more oil spills – Arrest BP!”
Was the thunderous chant echoing off the monolithic walls of BP’s DC headquarters today when hundreds of protestors turned out in force to deliver them a “Crude Awakening.” From the mouth of our megaphones BP got a strong dose of people power as we rallied and called for a “Citizens Arrest” of CEO Tony Hayward on the charges of criminal negligence.
More than a dozen network news cameras captured our outrage at BP’s criminal negligence to prevent and stop the unfolding disaster in the Gulf. (Check out the initial report from ABC News). Under the hot sun the energy of the crowd was palatable as we chanted and carried images of BP CEO Tony Hayward in a striped prison jumpsuit.
I MC’ed as speakers from Public Citizen, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, and Hip Hop Caucus (video) read aloud the charges against BP that included: polluting the political process, disregard for worker safety, price-gouging consumers and taxpayers, and violations of environmental laws.
The timing of the action couldn’t have been better; this week Attorney General Eric Holder announced he was opening a criminal probe of the oil giant. Holding BP criminally accountable is a bold step toward ensuring that the families on the Gulf get compensation for the vast damages to their lively-hoods.
After the speakers we set out to deliver our charges and the striped prison jumpsuit directly to BP. We took to the street shutting down traffic and flooded the doors of their headquarters with a throng of chanting activists and TV camera’s.
We held our position in front of the doors for another 30 minutes, though no one from BP came down to accept our “gift.” At the end Rev. Yearwood of the Hip Hop Caucus, closed it out with a touching prayer for those that have lost their lives to the fossil fuel industry. We prayed for our elected leaders to find the wisdom to recognize creation’s bountiful and powerful gift of the sun and wind.
The action was a massive success! Though I can’t get over the tragic irony that as BP and other dirty energy companies continue to wreck havoc on our communities no one from BP has actually been arrested and sent to jail. Meanwhile clean energy activists like my good friend Ted Glick, of CCAN, are facing up to three years behind bars for peacefully hanging a banner that read: “Green Jobs Now” (video here). This injustice must end!
Fortunately actions across the youth climate movement give me hope. This summer youth organizers in communities across the country are working to Define Our Decade with 10 community based clean energy projects. These are living community models of the world we want to create.
Then this fall, young people are organizing to kick dirty energy out of politics by flooding the midterm elections with support for real clean energy solutions. Big Oil may be able to outspend us and pollute our democracy, but we’re the voters and that’s what counts. Sign up your campus or community today.
I have confidence we can break through the politically entrenched dirty energy interests holding our country back through local organizing that builds power and demonstrates the benefits of a clean energy economy.
We must make the drilling disaster our “Crude Awakening” and dramatically shift to a clean and safe energy economy now. As long as the oil is gushing and our communities are impacted by dirty energy’s pollution we will continue the struggle!