Levees Not War
Make Wetlands Not War.

“Our Kinship Will Not Be Washed Away”

05/31/10

We always hate to miss a good protest, so we really wish we could have been in Jackson Square yesterday for the big SAVE THE GULF rally (organized, at least in part, by Murdered Gulf). In her HuffPo blog Karen Dalton-Beninato brings us an account of the strong lineup of speakers, including Phyllis Montana-Leblanc and Dr. John, with a rain-damp but spirited crowd that included Spike Lee, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Tim Robbins. (See photos posted by Derek Bridges @ Flickr and below; Editor B @ Flickr [with cool panorama]; Times-PicayuneNew Orleans Ladder; and NewOrleans.com.)

Probably the hottest and most articulate rant—worthy of Treme’s Creighton Bernette, or New Orleans’s late, beloved Ashley Morris—was given by activist Ian Hoch, who focused the crowd’s attention on the damage to the fishermen along the Gulf, on corporate malfeasance that is not limited to BP, and on the need to turn this oil slick crime into the moment when America shifts gears toward alternative energy sources. (See Gore, Kerry, Sanders at “In the News,” right.) Speaking through a bullhorn, Hoch aroused raucous cheers as he called for action and support of fellow Louisianians:

“Help the men and women in the coastal parishes yourself. Go visit St. Bernard, go visit Terrebone and Lafourche and Plaquemines. Eat at their restaurants and drink at their bars. I haven’t been fishing since I was 10 years old—I don’t even know if I like fishing—but I know that I would take immense pleasure in supporting a charter boat captain whose livelihood is endangered by BP’s corporate malfeasance. [applause] If everybody here today got together with a couple of their friends and booked a charter fishing trip I know we’d make a difference. And if everybody here asked the waiter every time they visit a restaurant, ‘Are you serving Louisiana seafood?’ I know we would make a difference. . . . I’m not going to stay here in town enjoying the current renaissance of New Orleans while our brothers and sisters are out on the water twisting in the wind.

“Let’s boycott BP, and let’s use less gasoline and reduce our carbon footprint. Thomas Friedman says “Change your leaders, not your lightbulbs.” So keep your anger focused on the politicians. Corporations will be corporations, and politicians will be politicians. But BP doesn’t answer to you. But Mary Landrieu and Bobby Jindal and David Vitter and Joseph Cao and Barack Obama do answer to you. [applause] Self-serving politicans enable the bad guys, and we enable the self-serving politicians. So call your congressmen and tell them they must not allow this disaster to corrode the social fabric of the coastal parishes. Tell them you want to be sure that BP doesn’t get to pick an oil-industry affiliated judge in Houston. . . .

“I’m confident that America can be a leader in developing alternative energy sources, and . . . I’m confident that Congress will pass the Accelerated Revenue Sharing Act and give Louisianians their fair share of offshore drilling royalties. And if we use the instruments of government together we deserve from BP let’s also show the fishermen, the shrimpers, the oystermen and the blue-collar families who contribute so much to the culture and the joie de vivre of Louisiana that we love them, we need them, and our kinship with them will not be washed away by erosion, corruption, displacement, or defilement. Let’s stand as one citizenry, one community, and one state, and help each other get through this gauntlet that BP has laid before us.” [applause]

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About the Accelerated Revenue Sharing idea that Senator Landrieu has proposed, see her op-ed published in Real Clear Politics and the Times-Picayune’s editorial “Louisiana Needs Its Share of Offshore Oil Revenue Now, Mr. President.”

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Photographs courtesy of Derek Bridges


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