A large group of community members gathered at the Faulkner County Library to air grievances and discuss what the future might entail for residents in Mayflower. KUAR's Jacob Kauffman was there and has this report.
UCA Professor Allisson Wallace, unaffiliated with any group, reserved access to the library for the organizational meeting.
Glen Hooks, of the Sierra Club, spoke at the beginning of the meeting and asked if representatives from Exxon were present to listen to the community,
“I ask this genuinely, without any sort of snark at all, are there any representatives here from Exxon or from companies that contract with Exxon? Show of hands?"
In the absence of any representatives from Exxon, or the government, the group of about 100 shared their experiences with each other. Mark Spitzer, a professor at UCA, shared his concerns,
“We saw them hosing stuff down, spraying stuff in there. And I’m just hoping that’s not chemical dispersants.”
A national group located in Houston, the Tar Sands Blockade, is currently in Mayflower attempting to document restricted areas,
“We’re having to deal with a lot of police harassment and a lot of other harassment around the community because we’re going places we’re not supposed to go and that’s something we’re really interested in doing.”
Charity Dawson resides along the only area of Lake Conway that has been officially recognized as containing oil. The area is commonly referred to as, the cove.
“The press isn’t allowed to come back there so nobody knows that they’re using our cul-de-sac to go in and out of the bog, or the cove."
Dawson commented on what the future may hold for her young son,
“That’s why we went by the woods. Thinking he’ll have woods to traipse through and explore. And now I don’t think he’ll ever be able to do that.”
Jim Mosley, a resident of Conway, articulate his thoughts on media restrictions and the handling of the cleanup,
“This is our county. I don’t know the mechanism but surely through our sheriff department, our attorney general, what is the mechanism to go and say you cannot tell media they cannot come here? What is the mechanism to say, you cannot tell me I cannot come here? I mean this is, it’s just absurd.”
Another community meeting is planned in the coming weeks so residents can harness their collective concerns.
Jacob Kauffman, KUAR News