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Gulf oil spill: Hands reach across the sand in protest

Oilprotest santa monica june 26
From Santa Monica to Pensacola Beach, Fla., to Washington, D.C., and even as far as London, protesters worried about the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico gathered to hold hands, in hundreds of Hands Across the Sand rallies. The goal, as organizers put it, was to "form symbolic barriers against spilling oil."

The media-friendly events at 11 a.m. local time were sponsored by a host of activist groups, including the Sierra Club, the Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife, Greenpeace, Oceana and The organizers said they took place in all 50 states and in more than 20 countries.

In Santa Monica, near a historic pier, about 400 people gathered for a few speeches, holding hand-lettered signs reading, "No more oil crimes" and "Clean energy now." The mood was feel-good: They held hands in a circle and then moved into one long line facing the ocean. Some beachgoers taking in the sun stayed on their towels lying down while the line went on around them.

In Pensacola Beach, Fla., where BP crews were cleaning up tar balls from the spill, about 450 people stood hand and hand in the sweltering afternoon heat. Rakes and other equipment were scattered on the sand beside sunbathers. In the water, children floated on inner tubes.

The protest had special meaning in Florida, where legislators in recent months attempted to allow offshore drilling but were stopped by opposition from residents and the governor. Now the spill that occurred off Louisiana is fouling their tourist-dependent resorts. "We're demonstrating against this mess that BP has caused out here that has really messed up our beautiful beaches," said Ricky Heinrich, 52, a manufacturing representative from Pensacola.

"We're all gathering here, arm in arm, joining hands as a demonstration against BP and against anything like this ever happening again," he said as he stood with friend Michael Collins, 50, a Pensacola interior designer.

Gov. Charlie Crist stopped by to chat with protesters and wade in the water, which he said is being tested "on a daily basis." He had also visited the beach Friday and Wednesday when it was inundated with swaths of black oil.

Asked about his thoughts on Tropical Storm Alex, which is gathering over the Yucatan Peninsula,  Crist knelt in the sand to trace his state's outline with a water bottle and indicate how the storm's current path could bypass Florida and maybe even churn oil away from shore. "This storm could have some promise," he told the crowd. "But we don't know for sure, so pray."

Meanwhile, Catherine Lawrence, a mental health counselor from Pensacola, focused on the need to promote clean energy and raise environmental consciousness. "I mean, we only started recycling in Pensacola this year. This year!" she said. "It's a total way of life that people are going to lose."

--Margot Roosevelt in Los Angeles, and Molly Hennessy-Fiske in Pensacola Beach

Photo: An oil spill protest in Santa Monica was part of a nationwide series of rallies Saturday. Credit: Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Times

Comments () | Archives (10)

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I would protest to if i was there but im not there

Well this should help plug the oil leak.

Do you think everyone walked to the beach that day?

Thanks Molly for giving me a voice we all need to use our voice and I apreciate you allowing us too.

I was there at the San Diego Hands Across the Sand.
It was a very inspiring and empowering moment.
The media was swarming all over and even a House of Representatives member came by to join us.
If you parents out there care about your children and the future: hear my words.
Time to jump off the couch and get out of the Escalade and START DOING SOMETHING to help the environment we will leave behind to our children.

Jump ON the recycling bandwagon. Buy and drive a Prius. Use cloth bags at the grocery store. Hang your laundry instead of using the dryer. If enough people start acting responsibly, then maybe there is hope, after all-for Mother Earth!

Anyone who says "We don't need oil" hasn't stopped to think for a minute what all oil is used for. They only think of the energy related products, not the consumer products, pharmaceuticals, and innumerable other things we take for granted every day.

"Crist knelt in the sand to trace his state's outline with a water bottle" - I doubt this was a reusable water bottle...
Stop buying water in bottles, encourage telecommuting to your job, use fabric bags, shop less, shop items that were produced closer to home, shop American! Recycle, Freecycle (Google that).

While protesting is an outlet for pent-up frustration, does it help residents of
Gulf in any way at all?

It's great that people are getting together and speaking out about stopping this from ever happening again. We all need to realize how important our decisions are, and change how we live to keep our world beautiful. Every time we buy gas or buy something from far away we are voting to keep the status quo and demand more oil drilling. If we really don't want more catastrophes caused by oil drilling, we need to stop using oil, now.
I believe water power has been invented, and hydrogen power has been invented, and the technology needs to be shared now.
But even if it isn't shared, we can still try to change our lives to not use oil. I can get a bicycle, and ride that to get groceries. I can find fun things to do in my neighborhood instead of driving across town, etc.
The power is in our hands, let's keep our planet green with life, let's make the changes we need to make to stop oil companies in their tracks.
We don't need oil, we can all live without it, if we don't make the changes we need to make, what will be left in this world for our children? When we've destroyed everything that is beautiful, what will our explanation be to them?
Let's change, now. It starts with each one of us.

Speaking from Key West Florida I say there is no way to clean crude oil from marsh lands, mangroves, sea grass or coral. California resident Richard Charter (google his name) has been fighting the battle for as long as I can remember (30+ years). BEWARE there are many new environmental organizations (Florida Keys Environment Coalition) as well as some of the older ones (Reef Relief, Nature Conservancy) that are celebrating the oil disaster as a mechanism for fund raising and really aren't doing anything pertinent toward solving the problem. Rather than donating money to environmental organizations you can help the cause and save money at the same time. Reduce your driving, car pool, use mass transit or walk or use a bicycle. Very small steps like not driving one day a week can make a remarkable difference and reduce our Nations fossil fuel consumption. Small steps are free and make you feel like a million dollars.


Going to any beach with oil on it is like chewing razor blades! The oil is loaded with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) . The introduction of chemical dispersants increases the amount of carcinogens in the oil. The federal government should be passing out Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) . They are designed to provide both workers and emergency personnel or people on the beach picking up or walking on tar balls with the proper procedures for handling hazardous material. The oil is a toxic material.

Some people who have breathed or touched mixtures of PAHs and other chemicals for long periods of time have developed cancer. Some PAHs have caused cancer in laboratory animals when they breathed air containing them (lung cancer), ingested them in food (stomach cancer), or had them applied to their skin (skin cancer).

We know this from an oil spill eight years ago in Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts. On April 27, 2003, eight years ago the Bouchard Barge B-120 hit an obstacle in Buzzards Bay, creating a 12-foot rupture in its hull and discharging an estimated 100,000 gallons of No. 6 oil. The oil is known to have affected an estimated 90 miles of shoreline, numerous bird species, and recreational use of the bay, such as shell fishing and boating.


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