Photo: Rick Baraff
Yesterday at 7:30am, a small but determined number of roughly 100 protestors gathered across the street from the Meyerson Symphony Hall in Dallas, Texas — site of the annual ExxonMobil shareholders meeting — to attempt to make some sort of humanistic, moralistic (dare I say, logical and scientifically proven) appeal to the corporate entities that run the oil and energy giant.
Cordoned off from the actual site of the meetings by numerous factions of law enforcement (public and otherwise, as some discovered while trying to take photos closer in), the demonstration felt as effective as shooting rubber bands at the moon, and hoping to knock over an 800-pound gorilla to boot.
There were almost as many green and activist organizations represented as actual protestors. This isn’t a bad thing on the surface – it shows there are numerous fronts in the fight against corporate power. But it also shows that, aside from the Washington, DC-based PR organization that helped coordinate this “action,” there’s still a lot of fronts all shooting those proverbial rubber bands at a wall of denial, cover up and climate change.
How do we know this? Written documentation proves that Exxon knew that petroleum exploration and development would negatively impact the Earth by increasing the atmosphere’s carbon content, and they knew this decades ago. Exxon senior scientist James Black led a team that warned company executives of the climate consequences in 1977. His granddaughter, Anna Kalinsky, spoke at the rally yesterday.
What did Exxon do? Remember, these were their own scientists, not a bunch of pot-smoking hippies, telling them that digging for oil, refining oil, shipping it around the world, promoting vehicles and other mechanical objects that use it, was causing real, calculable damage to human beings. And yet, 40 years later, on this very morning, the shareholders voted against every resolution to do anything about it.
How do we continue to peck away at the giant until it relents, or we defeat it? Several folks at the protest are continuing the fight. Men like Climate Hawk, a.k.a. Alec Johnson, a.k.a. “School” and www.TarSandsBlockade.org; the fiery, tireless Gary Stuard of System Change Not Climate Change; the vociferous Tom “Smitty” Smith, State of Texas Director for Public Citizen; Ralph Boscert, a local investment advisor whose house was flooded due to “crazy weather” (climate change) and was a major step in eventually divesting himself and his clients of fossil fuel companies; Shirelle, a representative from the local chapter of 350.org, who spoke on the tenth anniversary of Katrina; and the humble, soft-spoken Matt Ji, who works minimum wage at an electronics store because he quit his job as a fracking engineer for Haliburton over their unjust practices.
And thus, on a maddeningly muggy day, with an #ExxonKnew ice sculpture melting on the steps of the museum where they stood, these men and women did their best to protest the ongoing, real world lack of commitment to change corporate policy. Perhaps if CEO Rex Tillerson or any of the other minions inside would listen to the morning’s impassioned speeches, they might reconsider.