Amidst a 13 foot inflatable oil barrel, a large crowd gathered holding signs and calling for the arrest of BP executives. Public Citizen joined by 7 other public interest and environmental groups (Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, Energy Action Coalition, 350.org, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Center for Biological Diversity and Hip Hop Caucus) held a protest outside BP American Headquarters, located in NW Washington DC. The demonstration helped convey the message that the public is anger and annoyed at how BP has been handling the disaster in the gulf.
Tyson Slocum, director of Public Citizen’s Energy Program, informed the crowd that BP has the worst safety records of both environmental and worker safety violations of any oil company. The demonstration included a reading of the lists of charges that BP should be held responsible for. These charges not only included environmental and worker safety violations but price gouging, negligence and the inability to respond to the largest oil spill disaster in US history.
Public Citizen’s President, Robert Weissman, read a verdict that BP’s corporate behavior was “guilty.” The crowd carried around signs that included pictures of BP CEO Tony Hayward in a prison jump suit and read “BP Guilty as Charged.” Activists also held a large banner that read “Crude Disaster,” and chanted “arrest BP.”
The crowd moved from a park across the street to the front doors of BP’s office chanting that they wanted clean energy and they wanted it now. The demonstration did not just focus on the criminal actions of BP but brought awareness to clean energy sources instead of the relaying on petroleum. Speakers included Rev. Lennox Yearwood Jr., a native from Louisiana.
He said the disaster of “the oil spill made Katrina look like a rainstorm.” A Public Citizen activist held up a fake duck and drenched it in “oil” to symbolize the harm BP has caused wildlife. The drippings of the oil then left behind a huge mess, however unlike BP, protesters joined in to clean it up. People passing by stopped and joined in the action agreeing that BP’s actions were criminal and BP must be held accountable.