BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - A stretch of south Louisiana dubbed Cancer Alley is back in the spotlight. Protesters in the Coalition of Death Alley say they are fighting to save lives.
“To me it’s genocide. We cannot live under the conditions that is created by these corporations,” said Robert Taylor.
Taylor was born and raised in Plaquemine. He says the expansion of chemical plants in his community over the years, especially low-income areas, has reignited the coalition’s concerns about public health.
“The [United States Environmental Protection Agency] has said that in my home town, in my neighborhood, I am 800 times the risk of the national community at cancer. How could somebody tolerate that,” said Taylor.
Areas along the Mississippi River stretching from Baton Rouge to New Orleans garnered the name Cancer Alley after studies showed many who live in certain parts of the River Parishes had some of the highest risks of getting cancer in the country. Now people from all over the nation are hoping to fight back by encouraging lawmakers to push for stronger regulations.
“We’re here to support the River Parishes in their fight for justice. We know that massive petrochemical and other manufacturing plants are being built and have been built in the River Parishes primarily in communities of color for a long time now,” said Blake Kopcho, an employee at the Center for Biological Diversity.
Kopcho says he is also concerned about the impact some manufacturing plants along the Mississippi has on wildlife.
Protesters planned to march over a major bridge.
However, a court decision denied them access to the bridge under House Bill 727, which criminalizes protest on sites considered critical infrastructure. Violators could face felony charges and have to serve up to 15 years in prison and/or pay up to 15,000 dollars in fines.
“It’s unconscious-able that we would be labeled as felons doing something that Americans have been doing here since we've been here. We're definitely going to challenge those, but we did not want to risk our people being labeled felons and threatened with 15 years of imprisonment for merely exercising our rights,” said Robert Taylor.
The Coalition Against Death Valley says they will continue their protest in front of the State Capitol.