NEW ORLEANS — The permit needed for a local group to make their 'March for Justice' for improved air quality in St. John the Baptist Parish was approved quickly on Tuesday, organizers said.
But because of forecasted bad weather, the demonstration has been postponed. In it's place will be a rally in Reserve on Wednesday, where the march was planned to begin, organizers said.
The march, organized by a team of local environmental and advocacy groups called the Coalition Against Death Alley (CADA), was originally scheduled to be a 5-day demonstration for improved air quality in the area starting on Wednesday in Reserve and ending in Baton Rouge this Monday.
Organizers with CADA submitted their permit for the march the day of last week's St. John the Baptist Parish council meeting, which created questions around proper timing to approve it.
As a result, Parish President Natalie Robottom and other parish leaders held an emergency meeting Tuesday evening to get the permit approved, which organizers said happened quickly.
Shortly after, however, CADA organizer Rev. Gregory Manning with the Broadmoor Community Church said the march would be postponed because of potential storms.
Instead, Manning said a rally including speakers, musicians and food will start at 7 p.m. at the Tchoupitoulas Chapel (1022 Hwy 44, Reserve) on Wednesday, as a new date for the march is decided.
The coalition's goal for the demonstration is to spread awareness about dangerous, cancer-causing chemicals such as chloroprene that are emitted into the air of Louisiana's river parishes.
Last year, Eyewitness News aired a series that explored the infamous “Cancer Alley” along the river parishes and highlighted federal data showing it has the riskiest air in the country, due in part from emissions by a specific petrochemical plant owned by the Denka company.
"We need for the Governor to recognize. We need for LDEQ to recognize. We need for EPA to step in and all of those who are able to step in and say, this needs to stop,” Rev. Manning said.
The coalition announced two demands along with the march:
1. "No new petrochemicals projects in the river parishes."
2. "Either curb production at Denka to stay under the recommended 0.2yg/m3 limit for chloroprene emissions or shut Denka down."
While the march's permit application was in question, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Louisiana stepped in with a letter to parish leaders on Tuesday, urging for approval for CADA's demonstration.