Death Alley marchers demand: Stop poisoning the people

Bobby Taylor and Sharon Lavigne.
PHOTO/TED QUANT

Editor’s note: The following is excerpted from a statement by the Coalition Against Death Alley, which is fighting chemical pollution in Louisiana. CADA members and supporters marched from Reserve, LA, to the State Capitol at Baton Rouge from May 30 to June 3. Louisiana officials got a judge to use a law enacted in the 1960s to restrict civil rights activists to prevent the marchers from walking across two bridges over the Mississippi. Invoking the law threatened the marchers with up to 15 years in prison on felony charges. They were forced to cross the bridges on buses.

The Coalition Against Death Alley, CADA, in a joint statement of its two leaders, Ms. Sharon Lavigne and Bobby Taylor, said the following about the impending confrontation with Gov. John Bel Edwards: “We live in a 24-hour-a-day gas chamber empowered by the EPA, the DEQ and laws of man. But the laws of God say we have a right to clean air, clean water, and clean land.”

Ms. Lavigne and Mr. Taylor say that their march is bigger than just the poisoning of St. John and St. James Parishes. “Our march of people of all races and ages . . . is symbolic of our society moving from the backward days of white supremacy, and the indiscriminate poisoning and genocide of Black communities, to a Beloved society where every life is protected and enriched. From Africa, Asia, South and Central America, Europe and the United States there is a growing Movement to stop white supremacy and environmental destruction, the hurricanes, earthquakes, and floods. We are leaders in that Movement,” the two leaders say.

They added: “The Governor and his industry hunters constantly bring more and more poisoning companies to gas our air, poison our lands, waterways and the Mississippi River. THIS MUST STOP NOW. . . . Our fragile Earth is about 12 years, scientists say, from not supporting human life. We have to change our ways. The disrespect and rape of the Earth comes from disrespecting the Earth’s people. We must do better.”

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