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Date of Issue: June 23, 2010

Anti-drilling demo planned

Grassroots organizers hope to hold the nation’s largest anti-drilling demonstration June 26, when protesters gather for Hands Across the Sand.

On Anna Maria Island, Hands Across the Sand coordinators, using social media and online mapping at www.handsacrossthesand.org, hope to draw enough people to line long stretches of the beach.

“I saw this as an opportunity to do a very small something with this helpless feeling that we all have,” said Joanne Brown, who is coordinating protesters meeting on the beach near White Avenue at the border of Holmes Beach and Anna Maria. “I was always concerned about oil in the water, from drilling and ship spills.”

Brown said she remembered when she was a child that there was oil along the New Jersey coast. “How hard it was to get off your body,” she said.

“Just as we bought our dream house on Anna Maria this past March, my great fear happened,” said Brown.  “I spent much time on the beach before the leak in the company of the awesome wildlife, marveling at how beautiful the sand and water were. After April 20, I could not help the sick and helpless feeling that I had.”

Shannon Ulholland also is coordinating for Hands Across the Sand on the beach in Holmes Beach.

Additionally, Shane Catts and Holly and Heather Rolls are coordinating the demonstration at Manatee Public Beach, 4000 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach.

Caryn Hodge also was coordinating for Hands Across the Sand, hoping to draw enough demonstrators to line the beach from the south end of the Island to the north end.

“We’ve seen overwhelming interest in this event,” said Michael Brune of the Sierra Club. “Americans are tired of letting oil companies like BP call the shots. We’re hungry for leadership that will stand up to the oil industry and protect coastal communities and jobs. We’re ready to move America off of oil and into a clean-energy future.”

 A similar Hands Across the Sand demonstration took place in Florida in February and involved thousands of protesters, including about 200 who gathered at Manatee Public Beach.

“I knew when I went to that demonstration that it wouldn’t be the last,” said Bradenton Beach resident Barbara Jenkins. “But I didn’t expect to have to have another one so soon, and to have an actual disaster.”