NEW ORLEANS ― The typically festive sounds of a New Orleans brass band weren't indicative of the mood at Jackson Square on Sunday.
On a dreary, rainy afternoon, a big crowd gathered to voice anger and frustration over the ongoing oil spill crisis and the response from BP and the federal government.
"Oil is being spilled on Louisiana's soils, and where is our country to defend us," one protester shouted.
As a series of speakers lashed out about what they describe as a slow effort to keep oil from hitting Louisiana's coastline, protesters waved signs that featured scathing messages.
"There is no way to measure the depth of anger and outrage the public has about this horrific oil spill," Sierra Club member Linda St. Martin said.
Organizer Henry Thomas hopes the protest will spark a sense of urgency.
“We just need more federal intervention,” Thomas said. “They need to put pressure on BP to do everything they possibly can, in their multi-billion dollar capacity to close the leak and to put all their efforts into containing and cleaning up the oil that's already in the gulf. It's gonna affect all of us. It's just getting worse."
And now, one day after BP officials announced their top kill procedure was a failure, some fear oil could keep gushing into the gulf for many weeks ahead.
"I hope we can get this relief well drilled before August because it seems like that's gonna be the only solution and I hope they can fix it before then," James MacDonald said.
BP CEO Tony Hayward apologized when reporters asked for his response to the protest and growing level of frustration.
"Well, the first thing I want to say is, I'm sorry,” Hayward said. “I'm sorry for the way this has disturbed their lives, the way in which it has impacted their families and we remain committed to do everything we can to bring the situation under control as fast as we can."
Hayward said the remote locations where some of the cleanup work is ongoing is a challenge because workers have to travel in and out.
He said the company is now bringing in base camps to set up along the shoreline, where workers can sleep, then be ready to work 15-18 hours per day.
New Orleans music legend Dr. John was one of several high profile protesters on hand in the city’s famous French Quarter park. He talked about the impact being felt in south Louisiana.
"We're just trying to say something from our hearts that, this is wrong,” Dr. John said. “I voted for President Obama and I feel like he let us down. This is our home. You know, we've lost enough with Katrina and now this?"