Dow Action Diary: Day 15

On July 17, activist Diane Wilson began a hunger strike in front of the gates of the Dow Chemical/Union Carbide corporation in Seadrift, Texas. She hopes to call attention to the plight of victims of 1984's industrial accident in Bhopal, India where, to date, Dow has still not cleaned up the derelict factory or adequately compensated the victims and survivors. Supporting Diane are Jodie Evans and other members of the group UnReasonable Women. What follows are excerpts from the daily emails Jodie and others send to the hundreds of supporters also on hunger strikes around the world in support of the victims of Bhopal.

entranceDriving the long straight highway in the gray morning light in the distance shimmering was ... OZ/Dow, can you believe it is covered with tiny lights at night. They went off when the sun arrived, which was a ghostly white this morning.

We met early to hand out flyers at the other entrance, over half who entered rolled down their window, some looked the other way as if something more interesting was happening to their left. Diane said we got a better response on the contractors side than the employee side (who had been given instructions to ignore Diane), except the women wouldn't roll down their windows, one did and then threw it back at me. Just as we handed out the last flyer, security drove up and caught us empty handed. They followed us back to the truck to see what we were giving out and scolded us for being a safety hazard (which we are not).

On the heels of this, a woman arrives very emotional and starts on Diane, this is upsetting her and she wishes it was over and this Bhopal thing caused the ruin of her employer (Union Carbide). It was frightening for me, but deeply painful for Diane, I could feel the depth of her tears.

I set up the truck for the day, our fabulous new yellow banner taking up the entire length and looking much more professional. We gather our thoughts to plan for the meeting, Bhopal /Seadrift, how to make sure Bhopal doesn't get lost in our asking for zero discharge.

Off we go with our umbrellas for the snow job from the PR woman. She spent the first 10 minutes giving us a lecture about how unsafe it was for us to hand out flyers and says she will call the cops if we do it again. We weren't going to flyer tomorrow, but who can resist that bait? We are not breaking a law.

She talked nonstop for an hour, wouldn't let us get a word in. Didn't really give us a chance to ask our question, but in the end we pushed it and will return Friday at 10 for our answer. I noted some signs on the wall in the conference room:

"If you mess it up, please clean it up."
"Remember safety is our first priority."
"Hope you have complied with your admin group critical behavior."

They aren't very good role models for what they are asking from their employees.

Back at the truck is Channel 25 from Victoria, an hour of interviews, shots of the truck from every direction and his on camera report takes place. Diane's mouth is so parched I am alongside with sips of water between sentences. He is a sympathetic reporter from East LA and promises more coverage.

This just barely over the UPS man arrives (the wonders of living in a small community) and hands Diane a package which includes the most wonderful banner from a group in the Bay Area, with a love note penciled in by Kristin. We hang it on the back of the truck and are looking fabulous!!!! It is 10:30 and we are worn out.

It takes much longer to break camp today, each day something has been added and it gets more complex. I have to force Diane to sit still, she is weak and has lost two dress sizes. We meet her ex-husband and sweet son David at the dock on the bay and head out for a spy mission. Down the channel we go deep into Dow's backyard.

There it is: a drain with water pouring from it, with signs telling us to keep out. We find a few more things that look rather suspicious and don't fit the story we were told this morning. David takes videos and I take stills, a lawyer in Houston is reviewing Dow's permit, the case is building.

The 15th continues to come into focus as we move forward. Nader is including a piece on Diane in the next CitizenWorks and Hightower and his gang are seeing how they can help. Pramila is coming on Thursday the 8th, thank the Goddess as Diane is getting very weak and needs the help more than ever. Our angel Michael (he brought Diane a rose in the truck today) will take care of her on Saturday and Sunday.

I wish I could share the beauty as I sat in the boat with Diane, Leslie and David. It was a 12-hour day for Diane, but she was so energized and focused and relentless in her pursuit for the truth...it is magical to watch her, the depth and care in her heart continue to just blow me away.

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