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Verdict is in: BP guilty as charged

We came to send a message to BP, and anyone in the vicinity would have heard it, because we were pretty loud.

Amid a 13-foot inflatable oil barrel and lots of homemade signs, a large crowd of protesters gathered today outside BP’s Washington, D.C., headquarters to convey the message that the public is angry at the company’s culpapility in the Gulf oil disaster and wants it to be held accountable.

The protest was organized by Public Citizen and seven 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). Speakers outlined charges against the company then staged a mock arrest of BP CEO Tony Hayward. We then crossed the street to BP’s building on New York Avenue to present a prison jumpsuit. Not surprisingly, no BP representative came down to talk to us.

Tyson Slocum, director of Public Citizen’s Energy Program, told the crowd that BP has one  of the worst worker safety and environmental record of any oil company operating in the U.S.  Public Citizen President Robert Weissman then read a verdict that BP’s corporate behavior was “guilty.” In keeping with the theme, the crowd toted signs that included pictures of BP CEO Tony Hayward in a prison jump suit and read “BP Guilty as Charged.” We also held a large banner that read “Crude Awakening” and chanted “arrest BP.”

When we moved from a park across the street to the front doors of BP’s office, we called for a clean energy future.  One speaker, the Rev. Lennox Yearwood Jr., a native of Louisiana, said the unfolding disaster “made Katrina look like a rainstorm,” and 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 left a mess on the sidewalk; however unlike BP, protesters cleaned it up. Even passersby got into the action, joining the protest because, they said, they agreed the BP’s actions were criminal and BP must be held accountable.