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#101 - Great Louisiana Toxics March Sets The Pace For The Movement, 30-Oct-1988

The Great Louisiana Toxics march (November 11-20) has been organized to
celebrate change, and to protest the destruction of the southern
Mississippi region, where the chemical industry has now created the
nation's largest cancer alley, an industrial wasteland of enormous
chemical factories spewing filth on a massive scale. The march is an
important symbol, at once festive and deeply serious, a shared
celebration and protest that can be carried on in other states to bring
people together in action to stop the poisoning of America. The
Louisiana march begins November 11 in Baton Rouge and ends November 20
in New Orleans. All along the way, for a few hours or a few days,
everyone is welcome. Put on your walking shoes and come on down!

The march will cover the 80 miles from Baton Rouge to New Orleans. Not
everyone will walk the whole 80 miles, but thousands of people will
join the march for a day or an hour as it comes through their
community. Food and music will abound. And so will information. Red
beans and rice, jambalaya, gumbo; rhythm and blues, gospel, jazz, and
zydeco; rallies, meetings, reports, forums, and workshops have been
organized at sites along the way. The march will coincide with the
arrival of the Greenpeace ship, the Beluga--formerly a fire boat, now
outfitted with a chemical laboratory--which has been traveling down the
Mississippi River for the past several months, analyzing water samples
along the way and staging creative local events to focus public
attention on the destruction of the Mighty Mississippi by the
international chemical giants.

The march will begin at Devil's Swamp, once a bountiful wildlife area
but now one of the most treacherous Superfund sites in the nation. The
march will follow along the Mississippi, where 138 factories produce
25% of the nation's raw chemicals, where 350 legally-permitted outfalls
(pipes) discharge hundreds of thousands of tons of hazardous chemicals
into the river every year, which people in towns downstream end up
drinking. The march ends November 20 with a massive rally in New

The march has been organized by a coalition of environmental activists,
poor black tenant groups, and unionized chemical workers. The march
will demand an end to the destruction of the Mississippi and of the
people of Louisiana, where citizens are drinking heavily-contaminated
water as a matter of course, where cancer rates are the highest in the
nation, where birth defects and developmental disorders are rising

Local industry has turned its back on the people. When a local
pharmacist reported a high rate of miscarriages and still births in the
Geismar-St. Gabriel area, the former chairman of the Louisiana Chemical
Association, Fred Loy, was quoted in the Washington Post saying, "They
say the chemical plants are causing the miscarriages, but they have no
proof. I could say they screw too much and that's the cause of the
miscarriages. But then I would have no way to prove that."

Although it remains physically beautiful, Louisiana has been allowed to
become a polluters' playground. Since World War II, when the chemical
industry moved in en masse, a corrupt state government, boughtoff local
politicians, and do-nothing federal agencies have turned their backs on
workers and citizens as the corporate poisoners have had their way with
the environment. The result has been wholesale destruction of natural
resources and the poisoning of people.

The organizers of the march aim to forge networks with people outside
Louisiana to mount a coordinated national attack on the corporations
responsible for the damage. This march is significant in several ways:
It is a symbol that the grass roots toxics movement is growing stronger
every moment and can now stage massive regional events to turn a
spotlight of shame onto industry's misdeeds; that blacks, whites,
workers and local residents can coordinate their vision and their
strength for the common good; that traditional environmental
organizations and the newer movement for environmental justice can work
together, building bridges to community groups and labor unions to
achieve common purposes; and finally it is becoming recognized
everywhere that the South is under chemical siege--that dumpers and
poisoners from across America, East, Midwest and West, and even from
Europe, are using our southern states as an industrial toilet, and that
this has got to stop.

Hats off to Darryl Malek-Wiley and the Delta Chapter of the Sierra
Club, to the Louisiana Environmental Action Network, to the Gulf Coast
Tenant Leadership Development Project, and to the Oil, Chemical and
Atomic Workers Union. And, finally, hats off to Greenpeace and the
remarkable crew and staff of the Beluga for their eyeopening,
precedent-setting Mississippi River Project.

For further information, contact the Louisiana Toxics Project, 533
France Street, Baton Rouge, LA 70802; phone (504) 3872305; or write
Darryl Malek-Wiley, 3227 Canal St., New Orleans, LA 70119; phone (504)
822-8760. Greenpeace can be reached at 1017 West Jackson Boulevard,
Chicago, IL 60607; phone (312) 666-3305.

A first-rate video that will give you the flavor of the problems in
Louisiana-and of the possibilities for solutions through coalition-
building and citizen action--is Chris Bedford's video tape, LOCKED OUT!
ENVIRONMENT IN LOUISIANA which you can borrow from Dick Leonard at the
Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers International Union (OCAW), P.O. Box
2812, Denver, CO 80201; phone (303) 987-2229. Or contact Chris Bedford
at the Organizing Media Project, 1801 Connecticut Ave., NW, Washington,
DC 20009; phone (202) 387-1000.

This video is very revealing about the formerly Nazi-influenced
company, BASF, which citizens are fighting all across the U.S., and
about lockouts in general.

--Peter Montague



Here's a potent new idea for grass roots activists who want to
influence politicians and the public: make radio spots and air them as
public service announcements or, for a few hundred dollars, buy air
time. This video makes the case that radio advertising is the cheapest,
most effective and least-used way to get your message out to a mass
audience, throwing light, heat and pressure on your adversaries. Not
convinced it's effective? Afraid it's over your head or over your
budget? Buy or rent the video tape, Guerilla Media, from Varied
Directions, Inc., 69 Elm Street, Camden, Maine 04843; phone (207) 236-
8506. This video will convince you that making radio spots is cheap,
easy and an effective force for winning your local fight. It sells for
$299 but rents for seven days for $75. Your group wouldn't be making a
mistake to invest $75 in renting this video. As you watch the tape, pay
careful attention and take notes. You'll find a bundle of good ideas
packed into this 90-minute tape.

--Peter Montague


Descriptor terms: video; radio; advertising; publicity; mass media;
tactics; public relations; strikes; lockouts; labor; ocaw; la; basf;

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