Monday, April 05, 2010

The Calcasieu Parish Sheriff's Department, Part 2

This is what happened next:

We left the Sonic Drive In having lost our appetites.  We went back to the retreat center to find the most aggressive of the cops leaving the parking lot in front of our humble bunk house.  Most of the students seemed fairly upset -- wigged out might be a more apt description.  I knew I had to call the college and I knew we had to leave the retreat center.  It was fairly isolated.  I didn't expect anyone would try to do physical harm to us but remembered all the ways emotional distress could be inflicted when someone had decided a boundary had been crossed.

So we packed a few things and left for the safety of Sulphur and real, adult queen size beds. Mossville folk kept checking in with us, making sure we were ok.  They had tried to mount a rescue mission, complete with video camera to document our treatment.  We were allowed to leave before they could get to us.  Their motives were two fold -- to protect us and to use our treatment for organizing.  And that is how it should be.  We had been invited in, to join Mossville Environmental Action Now in their struggle.  Police harassment comes with the environmental justice organizing territory.  The refineries are an important part of the local, state and regional economy.  Their products are a key indicator in our nation's gross domestic product and cost of living indicator.  Their profits are astronomical.  Grassroots communities from many countries and on every continent have tried to force oil companies to clean up their act (and the air and the water and the soil)  and those companies have successfully resisted most of their efforts. Local officials have a vested interest to aid that resistance.  MEAN knew this, and now we knew it too.

There wasn't time to feel sorry for ourselves but we did take precautions.  No more photography on PPG Road.  We took extra care to make sure our interview teams were structured in ways that would not expose anyone to scrutiny or harassment.  We had to be on our way back to Sulphur before dark.

But no worries.  On our last day two interview teams still managed to get kicked out of a trailer park. 

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