Diane Wilson, activist and author of An Unreasonable Woman, is serving 150 days in a Texas jail for a misdemeanor trespassing charge. The charge stems from a political action at a Dow Chemical facility in her hometown of Seadrift, TX, in 2002, when Wilson 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. 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 serving 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.
Wilson was touring the country promoting her book when she was told she must report to serve her five-month sentence immediately. She remained outside of Texas for several weeks trying to meet with Anderson and avoiding arrest. She returned December 5th 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 and arrested.
Supporters of Delay had been asked to pay as much as $4,200 to rub elbows with the alleged money launderer. Wilson got her ticket for $50. “I guess they needed people inside,” Wilson told the Houston Chronicle. “You can get in pretty cheap.” Although local activist groups posted Wilson’s $1,500 bail in Harris County, she was held in custody for 4 nights and 5 days before being transferred to Victoria County jail. (Her trespassing conviction is in Calhoun County, but the county jail has been condemned.)
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.
In September, 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.
For updates on Wilson, please visit www.chelseagreen.com/2005/items/unreasonablewoman/fromjail.