Thursday, June 11, 2009

Response to Guardian frontpage story June 11, 2009

Dear Editor,

The Headline Carried in The Guardian New Papers: “Mom blames smelter protest for baby’s death” is imbalanced and contains several inaccuracies.

On Tuesday June 9, there were protests in La Brea at two points. One was at Sobo Village and the other at Union Village. We are not sure where Ms. Thomas was delayed. However, the villagers of Union Village are very sorry to hear that Ms. Thomas’ baby, who fell from a bed and was injured at home, later died. We wish to express our sincere condolences to Ms. Thomas and Stamlin.

We are however, very disturbed that the death of this child is being portrayed as having happened at the hand of villagers. The police have the full power to take charge of emergency transportation if a medical situation presents itself during protest action. It is unfortunate that the police did not exercise this judgment in Ms. Thomas’ case. If at any time this situation was brought to the attention of the villagers we would have certainly intervened where the police didn’t. We would have with haste cleared the road and asked the police to escort her to the hospital. However, if the delay arose at the Union Village site, this was never told to us either by Ms. Thomas or the police.

Had the Guardian contacted us for our perspective when writing this story, we would have provided you with this relevant fact and assisted the journalist to prepare a more balanced article free from other inaccuracies.

We appreciate too well the importance of life and one’s children. Our peaceful and legal protest actions are aimed at protecting our lives and children’s lives from sickness and death that is associated with the Alutrint Smelter. We hope that the rest of the country can understand what it means to have to live with the reality that you and your babies have to be tested every two years for life threatening diseases caused by a development, which was supposed to be for your betterment.

We have now provided the media through written statements as well verbal interviews with very clear information that we are not protesting for jobs. We are seeking to protect our lives and community. Therefore, we would be grateful if you would also correct the inaccuracy in your article that the protest was for jobs in the smelter complex.

Mr. Elijah Gour,
President, Union Village Council, La Brea.

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