As soon as we arrived in Houston, we were quickly exposed to the region’s range of radical activity. Greeted by the very supportive and gracious folks of Tar Sands Blockade, we learned of a number of protests and actions that were set to occur over the weekend that reflect the diversity of activism that calls Houston home.
Earlier on Friday, anti-immigration groups protested the Mexican Consulate in response to a national call from the “Anti-Amnesty” movement. In response, FamiliasInmigrantes y Estudiantes en la Lucha (FIEL Houston), a migrant justice group, organized a large counter-protest that outnumbered anti-immigration protesters about 100 to 20. The same confrontation was set for Saturday, and the Fight or Flight Tour was prepared to make a show of solidarity with migrants. But by the time that we arrived, anti-immigration protesters had failed to make a showing, perhaps due to their overwhelming opposition, and the migrant solidarity counter-protest had been called off in victory.
That same morning, over 60 activists from surrounding areas swarmed at the US-Mexican border across from the McAllen Border Patrol Station in McAllen, Texas. Those activists were there to show their support for the some 57,000 Latin American children that have been detained this year by Border Patrol agents. We sent our love and solidarity to those caravanning from Houston to stand on the front-lines at the border.
That evening we presented a workshop at the Solidarity Houston space, a collectively-run community space that provides resources for counter-oppression organizations. Solidarity Houston also maintains a radical lending library, Sedition Books. Those in attendance represented a variety of backgrounds and worked with organizations such as Tar Sands Blockade, Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Service, Zero Waste Houston, and Southwest Defense Network. Due to the variety of backgrounds, we had a very productive discussion about building strategic campaigns and the importance of coalitions and solidarity work for grassroots activists.
After the workshop activists headed to the home of William H. Easter III, aka Bill Easter, for a home demonstration. Bill is on the Board of Directors for Delta Air Lines and is a key player and decision maker for Delta. The event was held at Easter’s home in Piney Point Village, a city within Houston, TX that is one of the wealthiest cities within the state with a mean household income of $197,090 a year.
On top of being a Director for Delta, Bill is also a Director for Concho Resources, Inc. and has had his hands in the gas and oil extraction industry for decades profiting off the destruction of the environment and the workers he exploited.
The demonstration began with activists going to Bill’s door to speak with him and give him information about Delta’s involvement in transporting animals to laboratories to be experimented on through their partnership with Air France. Bill was aware of Air France’s participation in the vivisection industry but denied Delta’s involvement in the practices, stating, “This is Air France’s problem, not Delta’s.” This is the first time we have received any response from a Delta representative denying their involvement; Bill chose to ignore the fact that Delta Air Lines schedules, books, and profits off of every international Air France flight bringing animals into North America.
After Bill refused to discuss Delta’s deep involvement in shipping animals to labs, activists began a noise demonstration in front of his house with bullhorns and signs while handing out flyers to his neighbors to explain Bill Easter’s role in the transportation of animals to labs and what Bill and his neighbors can do to end it.
Before the activists left Bill came outside into the street to express that he understands our cause and our concerns and will speak with Delta and Richard Anderson, but feels that we should be focusing our efforts on Air France. Our message to Bill, Richard Anderson, and Delta Air Lines is that as long as Delta has a hand in shipping animals to labs, the campaign will continue and Air France’s tarnished reputation will spill over to Delta.
The following day after we left, Students for Justice in Palestine held a large solidarity demonstration, protesting Israeli state violence and the current military assault on Gaza. Around 400 protesters voices their opposition to Israel’s recent military actions in the Gaza Strip and its US financial backing. Although we couldn’t make it, we stand in solidarity with all those oppressed by brutal occupations, setter expansion, and state violence.