The Seize BP campaign held a public forum on June 29 in Los Angeles, Calif. Organizers and activists who grew up on the Gulf Coast discussed the disaster and the Seize BP campaign.
Danielle Norwood, Seize BP organizer in LA, is from Choctaw County, Ala. Norwood discussed the impact of the oil disaster on people in the Gulf Coast:
“The Gulf Coast has been abandoned again to deal with a major disaster, with no help from anyone. … When Katrina destroyed the coast, and the levees broke and flooded New Orleans, we learned that the government didn't care and could not be trusted. … I remember crying when I saw an old man outside with a rake just after the rains stopped, trying to clean up outside his store. That is what we do. We take care of ourselves. … But this disaster was caused by a transnational corporation, and people can't clean it up by themselves.
Norwood continued, “If people don’t get angry enough to fight, to make BP clean up and truly compensate the victims, not only this spill but its ongoing policy of profit over safety, this will happen again and again.”
Seize BP organizer Mandi Elliott, originally from Mobile, Ala., also spoke. She described exactly what BP has ruined for millions of people:
“Love for my home is what brings me here today; is why I choose to add my voice to the many. This is a man-made disaster, these are human decisions being made, whether to pursue greed, or to take action against it.
“What will today’s children remember of their trips to the beach? Looking for black tar balls and dead crab shells on the beach with their friends? Air that smells of oil and rotting fish? … Like the marsh grass, our roots are poisoned, and the BP criminals who poisoned them must be made responsible for their actions!”
LA organizer Peta Lindsay also addressed the forum. Lindsay put the White House’s escrow account in perspective. Lindsay also discussed the affect of the campaign in Los Angeles and across the United States.
“Even in the first days after the disaster, the response was overwhelming. We received tens of thousands of signatures from people all over the country, who support the demand to ‘Seize BP.’ More than 20 cities responded to our call for coordinated demonstrations on May 12, and the campaign began to receive widespread coverage in the local and national media. Then in June, nearly 100 cities and towns took part in a coordinated week of action to Seize BP. There were protests in the smallest Louisiana towns to the country’s largest cities.
“We’ve had a number of demonstrations all over the Los Angeles area, and we anticipate that we will be organizing more as this crisis continues.
“The people of the United States have been so horrified by this disaster that, of course, the Seize BP campaign has not been the only organized response to it. But we believe that this is the best response because seizing BP's assets and putting those funds in a trust that is administered by people from the Gulf Coast is the only way that working families will receive the compensation and relief they deserve.”