Hundreds join in anti-oil protest
Hundreds of people took to the beach Saturday on
Anna Maria Island to protest BP's devastating spill in
the Gulf of Mexico. PHOTO/TROY MORGAN
About 400 people took to the shoreline on Anna Maria Island on Saturday to draw a line in the sand against oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.
Carrying signs saying “Crude awakening” and “Real slick, BP,” the peaceful protesters joined hands at high noon at Manatee beach and the Sandbar restaurant, many wearing black, the color of oil - and of mourning.
Eleven people died in the April 20 explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, which has been gushing oil into the Gulf of Mexico ever since, killing wildlife and dirtying beaches from Louisiana to Florida.
The event was part of an international “Hands Across the Sand” event that sprang from a pre-spill protest in February, when participants were focused on state legislative proposals – since defeated – that would have allowed oil and gas exploration and drilling closer than 10 miles from shore.
Since the oil spill, the focus has shifted to BP.
“I think BP needs to get on the ball,” said Patty Greenwood. “This should be a serious wake up call for them.”
“This should be the tipping point to get people to call their legislators,” Bradenton resident Lyn Boyer, adding that Florida should be using solar power. “This is the Sunshine State.”
Retiree Lois Congdon joined the protest to “stop oil drilling and oil spilling,” she said.
Nyla Parker, 7, held up a sign saying, “Plug the hole now!”
Jimmy Lease, who grew up on Anna Maria Island, said the long line was a symbol of protecting the shoreline against oil. He hoped to meet other people with the same interests who might organize future events, he said.
The spill has caused people to lose rental income, which trickles down to cleaning staff and spreads to other businesses, Bradenton resident Sandie Kifer said.
Tourists who work hard and save up all year to come to Florida on vacation also are victims of the spill, said Debra Goessens.
Some participants arrived on the free trolley, while most packed the parking lot and spilled onto side streets.
No incidents were reported, according to Jay Moyles, chief of the marine rescue division of the Manatee County Public Safety Department.