Diane's report from atop
the tower at Dow

 

Glad this day started. Ninety percent what you worry about never happens.
Need to remember that. Got to the Dow/UCC parking lot at 5:30AM. Got
dropped off by someone who didn't even know what i was up to. i had a hard
hat and safety glasses and had my yellow banner slung over my shoulder. Went
down the fence line inside the parking lot, found a likely looking spot,
threw my banner over the top of the barbwire and climbed over. Then i walked
across the unit and I found the tallest tower on the oxide unit and started
climbing. I was still having some mental confusion from the hunger strike
the week before, so i had wrote down the phone number of my contact on my
hand. Had no problem climbing the tower, although i left my hard hat on the
ground. figgered didn't have any more use for it and besides with the banner
and the pipe and chains that i had brought to lock myself down with, the
climb was a little tiring. when i got to the top, i called my contact and
told her that i was at the top of the tower in the oxide unit and that when
the sun came up i would drop my Bhopal banner. it would serve no purpose to
have it down when nobody could see it. so i sat on a tiny balcony near the
top of a 70 foot tower for an hour and a half. no security drove around,
just workers driving into the parking and getting out. nobody looked up so i
sat unnoticed for quite a while. i watched the sky full of stars and silence
then would glance down at all the pipes and flares and smoke and noise coming
out of that cement palace. There were a million lights and a million decimal
points of NOISE. only thing i didn't figure on was the noise, so it was hard
talking over the phone.

Apparently, my contact who i alerted at 5:30 made other phone calls so by
7:00AM the first arrives. Jackson of radio fame in Houston. he pulls his
vehicle which i cant really tell what it is from the distant im setting, but
it looks like a litte station wagon shaped more like a volkswagen bus. Now
there are two vehicles parked out where the hungerstrike was carried on the
week before. I watch Jackson get out of his vehicle and start taking pictures
of the banner which i put over about 6:45. Finally i stand up and wave and
he waves back. There down below me and across the parking lot i see a Dow
security truck and it stops a minute and i can tell it is checking out
Jackson taking pictures and the 2 vehicles in the front of the plant.

 

This is after seven AM and up until this point, there hasn't been a single
interest of the security truck in anything that is going on . looks like
another perfectly peaceful day at Dow. So the security vehicle goes to
Jackson and i see a lot of antimation and jackson still taking pictures and
the security vehicle now hasthe window rolled down. the vehicle leaves and
starts driving slowly around with the window down. i wonder just how long
before he notices the yellow bannner hung off the oxide tower and me sitting
out on a tiny platform. That's when it gets interesting.Within about l5
minutes, people are coming out of the administration offices and looking up
at the tower and pointing. Then the police cars start arriving. at one
count there are 6 white police cars, a state trooper, dow security, dow fire
vehicle, EMS truck from memorial hospital. A little later the sheriff
arrives, then sometime later the FBI arrives, then eventually, the 4 manned,
black and booted swat team airlifted to my tiny balcony from a draconian (at
least it looked like a dragon to me) crane.

By the time all has arrived, Jackson out in front is arrested. I can
tell something is happening when the cops are following him and he has his
arms behind his back. Managment and men and sheriffs and cops are roaming al
over the oxide unit. Can tell somebody in power is hacked off about the
security blotch and serious looking men walk the fence line around the unit,
looking for the place where i came in. They never give this up. by 2 PM
(8 hours being on the tower) Dow manahment is still prowling the perimeter of
the gate looking for the entrance. sometimes when i notice them stopping and
obviously looking, i am mentally sayin, "no, not there...a little further
on." they look at a drainage ditch that has a space for a cat to crawl
through and obvisouly think this MUST be the spot. "no," im thinking. "not
there, neither."

Even at one point, two important looking hard hats go to the electric
gate that lets vehicles in and out the oxide unit and one is obviously
showing the other the space that a burly man could get through. he kinda
kicks at the spot, acting pretty disgusted. im thinking, yeah, i could've
got through there.

The place im locked down on is getting hot. Well, that's another thing.
hot and loud. the more the sun comes up, the more it reflects off the tower
and occasssionally a loud hiss of steam roars out of some contraption below
me. my head is leaning against the tower and my arms are locked around the
metal ladder. I've got my wrists locked in chains, then over the chains and
covering the whole mess, my wrists and all, is part of the exhaust pipe off
of my old shrimp boat, the SeaBee. The exhaust pipe, made of stainless
steel, is a good cover and it will take some doing to get it off. right
above my head on the tower is a long tube with some kind of valve that has
totally rusted to death. there is cobwebs on the ladder as i had went up and
on a sign was a warning not to climb the ladder when the Oxgen is in service.
looks like nobody had been up there in awhile. The only cool spot on the
whole place is when i turn my head sideways behind a slender bar. I seem to
get some shade there.

There is quite a bit of activity below me, people in groups talking,
pointing, gesturing. a hundred binoculars watch me. sometimes they climb
another tower and watch me for several minutes. then too, there is a roaming
hard hat who has a video camera and he shoots me all day long. occasionally
an important looking hard hat gets a group of workers and they locate down
below me and i hear the important hat say, "Now, listen up, here!" there is
some kind of plan that goes nowhere and eventually they all look up at me
and i look down and one knda waves and i kinda wave my exhaust pipe at him.

Around one, after the big draconian crane is brought in, a sheriff with
bullet proof vest is airlifted to me in a cage. can we talk, he says and i
say sure. he says what do you want and i look amazed. i point at the banner
that is staring him right in the face. "It's Bhopal,"...the issue is
Bhopal." But what can i do," he says and i say, "make sure the ceo of dow
goes to johannesburg and announces that dow will negoiate justice with the
survivors of Bhopal." That for starters. Well, he says, he will take the
message down, but i must really come down and i say i can't come down.
im locked in. and he smiles and says, but what will it take for it to get
unlocked. and i say, deliver that message to dow. well, naturally, im
sure he didn't deliver the message, because about ten minutes here come the
swat team. and believe me, they were dressed to kill. four men, dressed in
black, black boots, black helmets. another man comes up the ladder. they
tie off the basket to my balcony then start jerking on my arms. one's trying
to cram one arm through the pipe and the other's trying to pull it out the
other end like my whole body is gonna fit through that pipe. then they get
a pair of surgical scissors and try to cut the stainless steel. i say, fellas,
you're not gonna cut stainless stell with scissors. then they get impatient and
say let loose of the chain or they are going to hit me with peper spray and i
say, "Well,have at it, then"

One storm trooper gets impatient and starts cramming my arm agins
the pipe, trying to make it hurt. it starts bleeding a little and i say, you're cutting
my arm and then is when he presses a little harder and trys to press some
place in my elbow to make it hurt worse. i just grit my teeth and hang on
and so the fella gets out a long stick and starts sticking it in the pipe and
prying against my chest and my upper arm. guess he feels like crackig a few
bones. then he gets mad and makes the stick longer and he sticks it in the
pipe and gouges at my hands inside. the whole time they are threatening
pepper spray like it is the worst of all evils. finally the one who seems to be
enjoying the pain, stretches out my leg and puts his full weight down on my knee.
finally my hands get jerked loose, the one grabs my arm and jerks in behind
my back hard and then they put on the handcuffs. then they pitch me over
the side into the basket and on the floor. then they have a discussion over how
they are going to get the straight jacket kinda harness on me with the handcuffs too.
so one is kinda sitting on me and they're taking off the handcuffs and putting on the
full torso harness so i won't leap from the basket and jump from tower to tower.
Eventually they get their rascal interloper to the bottom and the man with
the video is there, taking pictures. Dow is everywhere and so is the cops.
Somebody important was right there as i was herded out of the basket. Dont
know who that fella was. might have been Bush's Homeland Security man.
Might have been the FBI. Might have been the plant manager since i've never
seen that man, not even once. always on vacation or back to back meetings.
anyhow, only thing to make up for those ornery little swat team fellas was
the very nice jailers in Calhoun Jail. I would trust my children with the
people there.

Got me a nice jail uniform and got to change wihout people looking. Took
those mean and biting handcuffs and gave me a chair and gave me water. Then
my sister and my aunt june bug posted bail for me. Saw Jackson getting out
just as i was goin in. he said, "Diane, WE HAVE to talk!" I'll say.
later i talked with the judge who was real nice and said i have to stay
away from Dow. Dow don't want me messing with them anymore. if i go around
them again, well. you know.....So now i've got my own personal bail bondsman
i get to talk to once a week and very probably a restraining order.

Well, this has been a real interesting day, but as somebody like Martin Luther King
once said, " Life is not a spectator sport!"