<!–[if !mso]> <![endif]–>LOUISVILLE, Ky.—On Aug. 13, residents of this city’s Chickasaw neighborhood, along with organizations such as the Sierra Club and Jobs with Justice, held a rally called “People not Poisons,” which focused on the effects of toxic pollution in local communities caused by private companies and corporations. The rally was located in Chickasaw Park, which stands in the shadow of the towers of Gallagher power plant.
Gallagher is one of the most polluting facilities in the region, and is the source of many problems for the Chickasaw and other historically Black and working-class neighborhoods in its shadow.
“People not Poisons” was excellent in explaining the impact of capitalism on the environment, and also how its destruction of the environment is leading to the destruction of people’s livelihood, culture, standard of living, and rights.
The main speaker was Michelle Roberts, who works for the law firm, Advocates for Environmental Human Rights. Roberts highlighted the dangers of the toxic chemicals that private facilities like Gallagher release into the community, namely the pollution of the local water supply with dioxins.
But the rally was not just an educational forum on the harm that corporate greed has on the environment. It was an opening for mass action to demand a solution. Roberts stressed that organizations can work together for a common cause within coalitions without losing their autonomy.
Roberts also tore down the illusions about the so-called “Green Economy,” exposing it as a smokescreen to cover up the ravaging of the environment by capitalist interests.
Roberts and other members of participating organizations stressed that the struggle for environmental human rights cannot be isolated from other struggles. Speakers highlighted how violations of environmental human rights have culturally wounded the Black community. Everyone was in general agreement when it was said that the struggle for environmental human rights must be linked with other social movements (labor, antiwar, oppressed nationalities, civil rights, etc.).
It is important to note that no one at the rally called on people to vote for the Democrats in the coming elections. Leaders of the rally stressed that to solve the environmental crisis, people must organize on a grassroots level and mobilize activists, workers, and their communities.
> The article above was written by Levi Gruenwald, and first appeared in the September 2011 print edition of Socialist Action newspaper.