Funeral procession recognizes the loss of life caused by the BP oil spill

A mock funeral procession — marking the loss of life caused by the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico — took place at noon on Saturday, Sept. 4, in downtown Asheville. Beginning at the Sean Pace Gallery, demonstrators wore black veils over their faces as they marched toward Pack Square and circled the Vance Monument. The crowd then regrouped at Pritchard Park before traveling down Haywood Street, carrying black signs cut into the shape of coffins, and decorated with white pelicans, turtles and dolphins.

“It’s important to realize that people are affected by this, not just [the people who live] on the Golf Coast,” said Melissa Terrezza, who organized the event. “Art opens minds, and is a creative way of expressing important matters,” she remarked.

“Art interprets what the culture feels,” added Coleman Smith, an artist who helped make the coffin-shaped signs demonstrators held. Coleman created an elaborate outfit made of inflated trash bags that he strapped to his back. “We can’t let people forget,” he continued, “or push it from their minds.”

Nine-year-old Haley Johnson of Asheville said she came to today’s event because “all the animals are dying and are covered in oil. Everything, the sand, beaches, turtles are covered in oil.”

“I know the artists and appreciate that somebody gives a damn about this giant environmental catastrophe,” said Leif Johnson, another Ashevillian who participated in the procession. “It’s now disappeared from the newspapers,” he continued. “I hate BP.”

Virginia Paris, who is involved in an organization called the Oil Spill Solidarity Movement stated, “It’s important that people remember the damage [from the spill].” Gesturing to the child in her arms, she continued, “I brought my daughter because it’s important for kids to be involved.”

Local artists Madison J. Cripps, walking on stilts and dressed as a huge black crane, said, “People don’t seem to really grasp the gravity of what’s going on. Every little thing that we do is important.” When asked what he was dressed to represent, Cripps replied, “I’m a dead bird.”

Local performance artist Claire Elizabeth Barratt said that she came to the event to support her fellow artists since “every action has a domino effect. I wanted to support Melissa and this bold action.”

Here are a few photos from the scene:

Coleman Smith

Sean Pace helps Smith into his demonstration outfit.

Haley Johnson

Melissa Terrezza

Madison J. Cripps’ “Dead Bird” outfit

About Aiyanna Sezak-Blatt
Aiyanna grew up on the island of Kauai, Hawaii. She was educated at The Cambridge School of Weston, Sarah Lawrence College, and Oxford University. Aiyanna lives in Asheville, North Carolina where she proudly works for Mountain Xpress, the city’s independent local newspaper.

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12 thoughts on “Funeral procession recognizes the loss of life caused by the BP oil spill

  1. Piffy!

    [b]BP Oil Spill: A Fuller Picture[/b]

    In which timpeck inaccurately claims that BP was drilling in deep water because of ‘environmentalists’.

    the reality, of course, is BP was drilling in deep water because THATS WHERE THE OIL IS.

  2. The Trolls Troll

    you know, if these people had put half the energy it took to put together this little parade into actually doing something to address the spill, I might respect them. but instead, all they do is whine, whine, whine.

  3. Piffy!

    [b]you know, if these people had put half the energy it took to put together this little parade into actually doing something to address the spill, [/b]

    Such as, what, specifically? Swam out and plugged the leaking pipe? Went back in time and made sure Dick Cheney didnt de-regulate half of the energy industry?

    I mean, I get your point, but seeing as all you are doing is typing on teh innertubes, you seem to be doing even less than them.

  4. The Trolls Troll

    maybe going down there and helping with the clean up? Pissing and moaning rarely accomplishes anything.

  5. Maria Johansen

    Actually, tomPeck, half the people in this procession HAVE been there, Have helped clean the birds and turtles. HAVE donated a warehouse of supplies, HAVE used their videos to spread awareness. This Event was to remind people who HAVE NOT been there, like you, that it’s still going on and it still needs a lot of help. Sounds like your the one pissing and moaning.

  6. Rob Close

    Not everyone has the ability to drop their lives to help clean up the oil spill. Most people don’t, but reminding us of the tragedy and commemorating the life lost…a noble endeavor.

    And remember, “Tom”, that this was a funeral, not “pissing and moaning”. Or do you think that all funerals are merely that?

  7. Sherry Johnson

    Actually, Tom Peck my family has made 2 trips to Louisiana helping the birds, turtles etc.. We took thousands of dollars in veterinary supplies that were donated by our local community and local bussinesses. Where was your $5.00? My husband lost his job while doing this rescue mission. It is narrow minded asses like you that think of only themselves…..not the creatures or our planet that is peril. Get off the couch and stand for something. You are either and activist or and inactivist. Guess we ALL know what catagory you fall in…What kind of cheese do you like with your whine Tom?

  8. Piffy!

    [b]Pissing and moaning rarely accomplishes anything[/b]

    And yet here you are in teh internets, doing just that.

  9. The Trolls Troll

    ROFL! Let me know when y’all are done playing with your markers and construction paper and we shall talk.

  10. The Trolls Troll

    @Rob Close: Actually, that was a MOCK funeral. The article describes it as such. In case you don’t know what that means, check out this definition from

    feigned; not real; sham: a mock battle.

    tompeck — 1 Rob Close — 0

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