(March 8, 2001, New Orleans, La.) Calling on Shell to relocate all four blocks of Norco's Diamond neighborhood, the leaders of Tulane student groups today and a Tulane professor blasted Shell for its decades long refusal to relocate Norco's African American community, known as Diamond. "Shell gives a lot of money to this university," said Daniel Brown, a Tulane freshman and member of Free the Planet. "Why do they give so much money to white students but treat their own African American neighbors so badly?"
In an important alliance aimed at intensifying the relocation campaign, Tulane students today stood on campus alongside citizens from Diamond. "It's time for Shell to realize that we are not a marginalized people," said Margie Richard, President of Concerned Citizens of Norco. "They care about the Tulane students, they need to care about us in the same way." Diamond residents have criticized Shell for attempting to destroy their community with the corporation's current relocation program, which carves the historical neighborhood in half and divides the community.
The alliance between university students and the Diamond community is potentially controversial, as Shell has made large financial contributions to the university. The university also owns Shell stock, and recruits employees on campus. "I don't know if I would ever work for Shell with what I've seen in Diamond," said Michael Everett, President of Free the Planet.
Shell has come under fire at the highest levels for refusing to relocate the Diamond community. Shell investors and managers from the London office have been to the neighborhood. "The local Shell office is out of touch with the fact that Norco is a PR blight," said Anne Rolfes, Director of the Louisiana Bucket Brigade, a group that helps local citizens monitor their air. "The students' involvement makes Norco an even bigger story, and people around the country are watching."
The students' campus action is reminiscent of last year's divestment campaign when Tulane students protested the university's purchase of clothing made in sweatshops. "This is oppression that's happening only 30 miles away," said Daniel Brown. "We have to do something." Today's action is the first in a sustained solidarity campaign to support relocation. "We haven't kept silent all these years," said Ms. Richard. "Now the Tulane voice is added to ours. It's a beautiful thing."
WHERE: TULANE - NEWCOMB HALL, Campus side at the steps by the flagpole
One side of Newcomb Hall faces Broadway, the other faces campus. From Broadway, turn onto Plum Street toward campus. Take the first right on Audobon. Audobon will lead you to the campus side of Newcomb Hall.
NEWCOMB HALL IS BETWEEN WOLDENBURG ART CENTER AND THE LIBRARY.
WHEN: 11 AM, Thursday, March 8, 2001