Local Advocates Celebrate Major Win for Free Speech
Terrorism charges rejected following public outcry
(Baton Rouge, LA)
“Toxic chemical companies like Formosa Plastics have desperately tried to stifle free speech in Louisiana for years. We’ve been harassed and arrested in an attempt to silence us. Today, it didn’t work — the charges were so ludicrous that the prosecution rejected them. Thanks to the relentless advocacy of our Alliance and incredible legal team, we will continue to exercise our First Amendment rights. Formosa Plastics’ lobbyists and others in the petrochemical industry should think twice before wasting thousands of taxpayer dollars in these attempts to scare and intimidate us. We won’t be silenced.”
– Anne Rolfes and Kate McIntosh, Louisiana Bucket Brigade
Rolfes and McIntosh were charged with “terrorizing” under Louisiana Revised Statute 14:40.1 simply for returning a sealed container of the very plastic pellets called “nurdles” that Taiwan-based Formosa Plastics illegally dumped into the Lavaca Bay in Texas. Formosa Plastics incurred a $50 million fine in October 2019 for their illegal action of dumping these pellets. The charges, if prosecuted, would have carried a punishment of up to 15 years and a fine of $15,000.
In response to these arrests and other First Amendment attacks against advocates and grassroots community leaders, freedom of speech advocates across the state announced a new coalition, Alliance to Defend Democracy, in June.
These rejected charges follow the launch of a major public awareness campaign that opposes the Formosa Plastics’ development of a toxic plastics plant in St. James Parish. The $9.4B plant is projected to be one of the largest, most toxic plants in the world and double the community’s permitted toxic air emissions.
Alliance to Defend Democracy is a growing coalition of community leaders, clergy, free speech advocates, and civic organizations defending democracy against First Amendment attacks. Coalition members include the Coalition Against Death Alley, the Concerned Citizens of St. John, Extinction Rebellion New Orleans, the Greater New Orleans Interfaith Climate Coalition, the Green Army, the Louisiana Bucket Brigade, No Waste Louisiana, RISE St. James, and 350 New Orleans.
For more information: defenddemocracyalliance.org
Alliance to Defend Democracy: Press@