Gulf South Rising Marks 5th Year Since BP Oil Drilling Disaster with Week of Action

Gulf South Rising marked the 5th year since BP’s devastating oil disaster with a “Week of Action” (April 15-22nd). Now six years later, the Gulf’s people and wildlife continue to reel from the damages of BP’s negligence. Coastal residents struggle to maintain their livelihoods and culture, while they wrestle with health problems from exposure to oil and toxic chemical dispersants. In the face of this devastation, Gulf coast residents are banding together and rising up to call for the restoration of our Gulf communities, cultures and environment.

2015’s events to remember the Gulf of Mexico’s losses due to the BP oil disaster include:

New Orleans: On April 20th, 2015, residents of South Louisiana gathered in downtown New Orleans and marched to the Mississippi River from Lafayette Square.  Frontline leaders at the rally included representatives from the Black oystermen community, the Vietnamese fishing community and south Louisiana’s indigenous community. The rally ended with a ceremony to remember the rig workers killed in the 2010 explosion. 12 roses were dropped into the Mississippi River – one for each life lost and one for the future of our coast.  

Plaquemines Parish, LA: In coastal Plaquemines Parish, where fishing is a primary industry, Gulf South Rising supported a community conversation and mini People’s Movement Assembly of impacted fisherfolk. The Deepwater Horizon Oil drilling disaster disproportionately impacted Vietnamese fishing communities and oystermen.

Coastal Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama: In locations including Biloxi, MS; Bay St. Louis, MS; Houma, LA; Venice, LA; Bayou LaBatre, AL; and Coden, AL, “Come Fish Off My Boat” provided experiential learning with vietnamese leaders and regional organizers who have been fighting for justice in their communities for the last 5 years. The Mississippi Coalition of Vietnamese American Fisher Folk and Families for hosted these powerful trips where participants could see firsthand how fisherfolk are still impacted by the BP Spill, and called for those participants to engage in political processes to bring justice to the region.

Houston, TX: On April 20th, community members gathered at at BP’s Headquarters for an interfaith memorial & jazz funeral procession for Gulf of Mexico’s losses due to the BP oil disaster; these losses include human lives, creatures, livelihoods and truth. Frontline leaders demanded that BP be held accountable and tell the truth, and advocated for the region to move towards a just transition for a sustainable and equitable Gulf in which cultures and ecosystems are protected.

South Padre Island: Community members protested the five proposed liquefied natural gas export terminals proposed for the Port of Brownsville. Highlighting that the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill was the worst environmental disaster in US history, frontline leaders gathered to show fossil fuel companies that they are not welcome in the Gulf South and that its residents are no longer willing to sacrifice clean air, clean water and biodiverse wildlife habitats for corporate profits.

Pensacola, FL: Frontline community leaders held a Gulf healing ceremony and sunset vigil to commemorate the 5th anniversary since the ecocide wrought by the BP Oil Spill. With drums, and dressed in black black to show mourning and to resemble an oil spill, leaders performed a water healing ceremony at sunset and symbolically drummed-out the era of fossil fools.