A local activist group staged a mock oil clean up to protest ExxonMobil’s sponsorship of the Go Green Festival, celebrating Earth Day at McCarren Park.
Although Earth Day was established 38 years ago, this was the first festival celebrating the holiday in McCarren Park, bounded by Nassau Avenue and Bayard, Leonard and North 12 streets, made possible by sponsors such as Assemblyman Joseph Lentol, Forest City Ratner, the Greenpoint Gazette, as well as ExxonMobil, and featured local businesses selling merchandise advertised as environmentally friendly, recycling booths and musical performances.
ExxonMobil had also set up a stand explaining what it is doing to remediate an enormous petroleum plume near the area, which has brought upon the company four separate lawsuits.
But the Brooklyn-based activist group Greenpoint SuperFUNd SuperFriendz was unimpressed by the corporation’s publicity efforts and staged a demonstration to protest what they allege as greenwashing, the distributing misleading information by a company to to conceal its abuse of the environment in order to present a positive public image.
After local politicians finished their opening remarks, a group of performers in white jumpsuits with fake “Exxon” and “BP” badges carried out a handmade oil derrick to the main square. They stopped their procession feet away from where ExxonMobil had set up a booth, unfurled a black plastic sheet, and put the sculpture on top of it.
Then, mock clean up workers poured buckets of molasses onto the tarp and started mopping up maple syrup to signify the 17 million to 30 million gallons of oil that (according to state Environmental Protection Agency estimates) ExxonMobil and other companies have released into the Greenpoint area for over the course of a century.
Meanwhile, event organizers sprang to contain the disruption. Borough President Marty Markowitz stated over the microphone that only in his borough could one find this diversity of culture and views.
The NYPD arrived shortly after Markowitz’s speech and broke up the demonstration.
The Police Department did not reply to an email inquiry asking who contacted them or what law the protesters were violating.
Susan Anderson, chairperson of the organizer Town Square, said that the activists made no effort to reach out to her before the event.
“If this group had approached us, we would have been happy to work with them,” Anderson asserted, adding that her organization tried to include whatever Greenpoint organizations contacted her. “Exxon, for better or worse, is part of the community.”
While the oil company’s sponsorship made the event possible, Anderson claimed that its financial donation did not affect programming.
However, several of the scheduled participants
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