Associated Students’ Environmental Affairs Board organized a silent walk through campus yesterday to commemorate last year’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill and protest U.S. dependence on foreign oil.
The walk began at Davidson Library and continued through the center of campus and Isla Vista’s most populated areas, concluding at the MultiCultural Center. Protesters carried signs imploring British Petroleum and the U.S. government to take responsibility for the crisis and address ongoing environmental concerns about the Gulf of Mexico.
EAB co-chair Teal Riege, a fourth-year ecology and evolution major, said the April 2010 disaster — which killed 11, injured 17 and released an estimated five million barrels of oil into the Gulf — rocked the nation both culturally and ecologically.
“We were socially, politically and environmentally destroyed after the spill,” Riege said. “We are still recovering, but this protest is to remind us that the government and BP still have not done enough to restore stability in the Gulf.”
Riege said the protest was organized to highlight our national dependence on the companies that failed to take responsibility for causing the spill.
“The oil spill devastated … the ocean and the Gulf still hasn’t recovered,” Riege said. “The spill ruined the lives of animals [and] made people have contempt toward BP and oil companies in general even though we’re dependent on them.”
Protest organizer and EAB member Ally Gialketsis, a third-year history and environmental studies major, said advocating for a change in energy policy at Washington D.C.’s Power Shift protest earlier this month encouraged her to plan Wednesday’ protest.
“After attending Power Shift, many of the students were talking about having protests on each of our campuses in commemoration of the BP oil spill,” Gialketsis said. “Most of the schools planned their protests at BP gas stations, but we thought we would reach more students through our walk.”
While protesters carried posters claiming that over 6,000 animals were killed as a result of the spill, EAB member Sierra Moreno, a third-year environmental studies major, said the estimates may not represent the full extent of the destruction.
“There was a lot of cover-up done after the spill,” Moreno said. “Scientists have been speaking up and revealing that there was much more death and damage done than the numbers originally suggested.”
Riege said they chose to keep the walk silent to express their mourning — rather than anger — about the incident.
“We are not protesting out of hatred,” Riege said. “This is a peaceful protest.”