Plastic Pellets: The Petrochemical Industry’s Reign of Terror

Juneteenth commemoration at a burial site for enslaved people, located in a field where Formosa plans to build one of its facilities. 
Photo: Courtesy of ron Moyi/Louisiana Bucket Brigade

On Thursday morning, in a dramatic escalation of nationwide attempts to criminalize free speech and peaceful demonstration, Louisiana Bucket Brigade activists Anne Rolfes and Kate Mcintosh turned themselves in to local law enforcement on charges related to a nonviolent protest action in December 2019 after a warrant was put out for their arrest.

Their offense? “Terrorizing” Formosa, a multi-billion corporation, with the same plastic pellets that Formosa themselves have been dumping into Texas’s Lavaca Bay. (Formosa had to cough up $50 million to settle a lawsuit over the incident.)

According to an article from The Intercept, “With a key environmental permit still pending for Formosa in Louisiana, the action — dubbed ‘Nurdlefest’ — was meant to pressure the state’s Department of Environmental Quality to scrutinize the company’s record. Boxes of the plastic pellets, used as evidence in the Texas case, were carted to the front of the agency, where around 75 people gathered in the rain.

What apparently terrorized community members, however, was a container of the pellets that appeared on the porch of an oil and gas lobbyist, with a detailed note attached, explaining what they were and their Texas origin.”

Does that really sound so terrible?

Even worse for the Louisiana Bucket Brigade activists, this constitutionally-protected action advocating for the health and safety of the their community and dissenting against the petrochemical industry is punishable by up to 15 years in prison and a $15,000 fine.

In response to the latest charges, local organizers are launching the Alliance to Defend Democracy to push back on the increasing criminalization.

We may be separated in space, but our efforts are one and the same. We stand with our friends at Louisiana Bucket Brigade and encourage all our allies to help amplify the rallying cry:

We will not be silenced.

The recent arrests in Louisiana are part of a coordinated attack on those who defend democracy and challenge the petrochemical industry. If you are able, please consider supporting the Louisiana Bucket Brigade’s Defend Democracy Fund and help protect our right to free speech.

Updated: Jul 24, 2020 — 10:58 am

The Author

Sarah Carballo

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