"Seize BP" holds rally in St. Petersburg, and across the US
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05/13/10 Joshua Lee Holton
WMNF Drive-Time News Thursday | Listen to this entire show:

Yesterday, activists in St. Petersburg protested BP’s response to the oil spill in the Gulf. The protest was one of a score of demonstrations that took place across the country that insist that BP use its billions of dollars in profits to clean up the spill and pay for economic damages associated with the 4 million gallon leak.

Passing drivers honked their horns in support, while giving thumbs up to protesters as they held up signs in front of a BP gas station in central St. Petersburg. They joined with people in more than 20 cities in a national day of action organized by The A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition. Its national Seize BP campaign was organized locally by St. Pete for Peace. Daniel Alloncius raised a sign for the campaign.

Seeking justice through politicians can be difficult, according to Chris Ernesto, from St. Pete for Peace. That’s because, he says, many politicians are influenced and funded by oil industry lobbyists and campaign contributions.

Some BP customers smirked as they watched the protesters from a distance. Others pretended not to see the demonstration, despite the three police cars blocking off surrounding intersections. The BP station attendant said he loves America, and supported the protesters’ right to assembly, but declined to be interviewed on tape. While filling up his car, BP customer Tunde Laleye said he would boycott BP if it didn’t clean up the spill, which BP now estimates will cost 450 million dollars.

Nearly one hundred animals have died from the effects of the spill, and four-inch tar balls are being found near Northern Florida on the Alabama coasts. For this reason, Chris Ernesto says, Floridians should feel compelled to take action, even though Florida has yet to see oily beaches.

The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration is leading a program to test and report risks to fish and wildlife from the oil spill and cleanup. Tunde Laleye laments the potential impact to the fishing industry, which he anticipates will affect food prices and commerce across the Gulf.

As the oil slick is expected to draw even closer to Florida’s coast, Gov. Charlie Crist has proposed an emergency ad campaign to promote tourism, which has declined since the spill. One sign read, “Oil doesn’t mix well with wetlands.” Timothy Cushing predicts the spill will take a swipe at Florida’s tourism industry, and thus the state economy.

Many protesters, like Stephen, think the U.S. needs to back off its petroleum usage.

Melissa Bray also demands clean and renewable energy technologies. She held up a sign for “clean alternatives now.”

About 30 people showed up to protest BP outside the St. Petersburg gas station. St. Pete for Peace plans to organize a boycott against the company if it doesn't completely clean up the spill from the April 20 Deepwater Horizon Oil Platform explosion.

More WMNF coverage of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill:

BP's track record on safety and are the chemical dispersants harmful to the environment?

Coast Guard holds secret meeting with environmental groups

Seabird sanctuary prepares for oil slick disaster in Tampa Bay

Castor says BP thinks oil leak could be up to 60 thousand barrels per day

Behind “Drill, Baby, Drill”

Officials give rosy view on oil spill recovery efforts

Sen Bill Nelson wants pause in exploration until cause of oil spill determined

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