September 7th was a hot Saturday morning filled with excitement and vigor as the Esperanza Community gathered across the street from an active oil extraction-well to stand up against oil well owner AllenCo Energy Inc. to demand an end to their toxic emissions. People came to share their stories and symptoms that they experience as a direct result of living steps away from an active oil well. One by one, residents of the neighborhood spoke of the harm they have either felt or witnessed in their own families including constant dizziness, nausea, headaches, and respiratory ailments. One mother spoke of her son’s nightly nosebleeds; another described her fear of opening the windows and exposing her children that much more to harmful chemicals. These fears and stories are common in the University Park community. The AllenCo oil extraction site is surrounded by schools, homes, and apartments and within the last three years they have increased production by more than 400%. Neighbors feel, see and smell this increase in production and know that it is increasingly detrimental to their health.
With the support of SAJE and InnerCity Struggle, Esperanza dropped the colorful “People Not Pozos” banner demanding that AllenCo prioritize the community’s health over production and profits. Songwriter, Luí Donis performed an original song describing the ailments and struggle of this community. In a real-time Spanish to English bilingual translation, speakers and translators helped all participants understand the messages of each speaker. Poignantly 12 year-old Nalleli Cobo shared her experience of headaches and almost daily nosebleeds over the last three years aligned with the increased production. The young resident said, “This is making me sick but it is also making my friends sick. We need to know why.” The community voices ended with local resident and activist, Monic Uriarte reminding the community and hopefully AllenCo that their growing profits are mirrored by the growing harm to community and most especially the children.
LA Times recently covered the event in an article, which led to a follow up piece ignited by Senator Boxer asking the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to “immediately address these unacceptable situations using all available and appropriate authorities.”
For more information on how you can join Esperanza in standing up for the People Not Pozo’s Campaign contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 213-748-7285 to get involved in our work!