Anti-Dow Activist, Reports From Texas County Jail
(Beyond Pesticides, January 30, 2006) Diane Wilson, author of An Unreasonable Woman, is almost two months into a 150-day sentence in a Texas jail for a misdemeanor trespassing charge she received while protesting Dow Chemical Company. The conditions in the Victoria County jail are deplorable, according to Wilson, a dedicated activist who exposes injustice wherever she goes. She has written a public letter, addressed to Victoria County Sheriff T. Michael O’Connor, describing abusive conditions within the jail, violations of basic inmates rights, horrifying reports of the withholding of medical treatment from ill women who were jailed on non-violent charges, and the lack of a functioning avenue for inmates to address these problems within the system.
Wilson’s jailing stems from a political action at a Dow Chemical facility in her hometown of Seadrift, TX, in 2002, when she climbed a tower at the plant and hung a banner reading “Justice For Bhopal,” in reference to the thousands of Indians killed following a toxic release of methyl isocyanate in 1984 by Dow subsidiary Union Carbide.
Wilson is a longtime advocate for the victims of the Bhopal disaster, who continue to seek justice for the deaths of their loved ones (See Daily News stories 11/29/04 and 12/03/04). Wilson has been trying to meet with Warren Anderson, the ex-CEO of Union Carbide, to demand he return to India to face outstanding criminal charges for culpable homicide in the Bhopal toxic release. She had avoided returning to Texas to serve time for her misdemeanor, demanding that Anderson face up to his more serious charges before turning herself in. Though India has filed with the U.S. government for Anderson’s extradition, he remains at large.
On December 5th, 2005, Wilson returned to Texas to infiltrate a fundraiser in Houston for recently-indicted U.S. Rep. Tom Delay attended by Vice President Dick Cheney. While protestors outside waved placards opposing the Iraq War, Wilson purchased a ticket, entered, and unfurled a banner reading “Corporate Greed Kills—From Bhopal to Baghdad” as Vice President Cheney was speaking. Wilson was removed from the event, arrested, and subsequently transferred to Victoria County jail to serve out her sentence stemming from her earlier protest at the Dow Chemical facility.
Wilson, mother of five, former shrimp boat captain, and a co-founder of Code Pink: Women for Peace, has been an activist since 1989, staging actions and hunger strikes from Washington to Austin. Her environmental work on behalf of the people and bays of the Texas Gulf Coast has won her many awards including: Mother Jones Hellraiser of the Month, the National Fisherman Highliner Award, and the Bioneers Award.
Last fall, Wilson published her first book, An Unreasonable Woman: A True Story of Shrimpers, Politicos, Polluters and the Fight for Seadrift, Texas (Chelsea Green Publishing). In it she details her discovery that local chemical companies have made her county one of the most polluted in the country, and her transformation from mother and wife to environmental activist. She soon finds herself in a fight against Formosa Plastics, a multi-billion-dollar corporation that has been covering up toxic spills, silencing workers, flouting the EPA, and dumping lethal ethylene dichloride and vinyl chloride into the bays along her beloved Texas Gulf Coast. (See Beyond Pesticide’s review of Wilson's book in the Fall 2005 issue of Pesticides and You).
For updates on Wilson, please visit www.chelseagreen.com/2005/items/unreasonablewoman/fromjail.