As oil keeps pouring into the Gulf of Mexico, oil giant BP continues to see its reputation dragged further and further through the muck. Across the Gulf Coast, anti-BP signs and calls for help are popping up. On Friday, people gathered at BP’s DC headquarters to protest the corporation and present a “prison jumpsuit” to CEO Tony Hayward. While no one came down to accept the gift, ThinkProgress was covering the event and saw several BP employees watching from the safety of their 7th floor offices.
Protests at the local level — even ones that are nothing more than symbolic in nature — are also picking up. The Brevard County Manatees, the minor league Class-A Advanced Florida State League affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers, has officially changed the name of “batting practice” — known as “BP” for short — to “hitting rehearsal.” “We hope to send a message to the community that we are definitely worried with the pollution that is in the waters off the Gulf Coast and its potential impact on the beaches here in Brevard County,” said the team’s general manager.
Yesterday in Pensacola, FL — which is on the Gulf Coast close to the Alabama border and now has tar balls washing up on its beaches — about 30 protesters gathered outside of a local BP gas station for a two-hour demonstration, with signs and bumper stickers reading, “Boycott BP,” “BP Lies Pensacola Dies,” and Wake Up and Smell the Oil.” Some other protests at BP stations around the country:
– On May 30, more than 200 protesters “swarmed Jackson Square” in New Orleans to vent their frustration at BP, where speakers “lashed out” at the “slow effort to keep oil from hitting Louisiana’s coastline.” Many posters had “scathing messages” including “BP = $ over people” and “refuse to be LOSEiana anymore.”
– Over Memorial Day weekend, hundreds of protesters “covered in ‘oil’ or dressed like sea creatures” flocked to a New York City BP station to rally against the oil spill and “to keep motorists from filling up.” Protesters chanted “BP your heart is black, you can have your oil back.”
– On June 3, middle-school students from Illinois valley spent the day “on a stretch of public sidewalk” outside a BP station “shouting facts about the disaster” and chanting “agree with me, don’t buy from BP.”
– Fifteen students in St. Cloud, MN “circled in front” of a BP gas station on Friday holding “painted signs” to show that “young people are doing something and they have a voice.”
– Over Memorial Day weekend, more than 20 protesters demonstrated outside a local convenience store in Charlottesville, VA. One protester urged the need for clean energy sources with “a placard touting fuel from hemp.”
Many business owners are worried that these boycotts and protests may hurt their profits while not affecting the parent company. The vast majority of the 10,000 BP stations in the country and independently owned and operated.
While the company isn’t publicly addressing the boycott efforts, they may still end up affecting how BP operates. Consumers also boycotted Exxon stations after the 1989 spill in Alaska, and while the company ignored it publicly, Exxon has now “reduced its dependence on consumer sales, and the company is much more dependent on business-to-business sales than it was 20 years ago.” Eighty-one percent of Americans disapprove of BP’s response to the spill, and 64 percent believe the government should pursue criminal charges against those involved.