by Dennis Bernstein
On June 17, after watching BP’s oil blowout pollute the Gulf of Mexico for nearly two months, environmental campaigner and fourth-generation Texas shrimp boat captain, Diane Wilson, had had more than enough.
So Wilson seized the only opportunity she may ever have to confront BP chief executive, Tony Hayward, eye to eye, about his “criminal activities” as top dog at the oil giant.
That day, Hayward happened to be giving testimony before the Senate Energy Committee hearings. Wilson, who works with CodePink now, had been on the road and was heading home to Seadrift, Texas, when she heard Hayward would be testifying at the Capitol.
“I was coming back to Texas and I found out the CEO of BP was going to be in D.C,” said Wilson, in a telephone interview. “I felt compelled to come. I had to see Hayward. I had to. And I did.”
But Wilson was not merely planning to be a passive observer, sitting in awe in one of the great deliberative bodies of U.S. democracy.
“I got in and I snuck in some black paint,” she said, “and I sat there and waited ‘til he started testifying and then I smeared that paint all over myself, poured it on my hands, and I stood up and told him he should be jailed. He should be jailed, I told him.”
“BP is a criminal company that has ignored safety regulations at the health of our oceans and even its own workers,” Wilson called out to Hayward and the members of the committee,” before she was pounced on by security and hustled out of the hearing room.