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Tybee protest aims at drilling
Georgia Southern professor assigns event to class
web Tybee protest photo
Hundreds of protesters hold hands Saturday at Tybee Island to draw a "line in the sand" against offshore oil drilling. - photo by NICOLE WILEY/staff

    Hundreds of people formed a line across Tybee Island’s beach stretching as far as the eye could see Saturday, as a part of the worldwide Hands Across the Sand protest against offshore drilling.
    The protests come during the aftermath of the ongoing Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, which David Rauschkold, founder of Hands Across the SandRauschkold, said is a wakeup call.
    Dr. David Seaman, professor of French at Georgia Southern University, assigned participation or observation of the protest to his international studies class.
    “I was surprised to discover that none of my students had ever been in a demonstration, or maybe hadn’t even seen one,” Seaman said.
    “I keep thinking about the grandchildren of our students and when the grandchildren say, ‘Gosh, our beaches are all covered in oil. Did you have anything to do with that?’ they’ll be able to say ‘Well, I tried to help.’”
    More than 900 events were organized worldwide, according to the organization’s website. At each event, participants were instructed to arrive at 11 a.m. and join hands at noon for 15 minutes, “drawing a line in the sand against offshore drilling,” Rauschkold said.
    “Even as the Gulf disaster grows, British Petroleum and other oil companies continue to push for new offshore drilling anywhere oil might be found regardless of the risks they pose,” Rauschkold said. “The offshore drilling industry is a dirty, dangerous business and no one industry should be able to place entire costal economies and marine environments at risk.”
    During Tybee’s event participants held signs displaying, “NO to offshore drilling. YES to clean energy,” and chanted, “You say drill, I say chill.” The line of protesters, at times, stretched nearly a mile on either side of the 16th Street Pier.
    Tybee’s protest grew in size as beachgoers unaware of the protest beforehand realized what was taking place.
    Randy Harrell said he decided to take part because of the “slow response” in the Gulf.
    “Everybody has drug their feet getting [the oil spill] stopped,” Harrell said. “I’m no rocket scientist, but I believe they should have it stopped by now.”
    For others, the motivation to protest came from their support for green energy.
    Paul Wolff, Tybee Island city councilman and organizer for the Tybee protest, said he wanted to bring to the protest to Tybee because he believes renewable energy is the most effective way to power Georgia, specifically offshore wind energy.
    “It makes no sense whatsoever to keep putting money into antiquated fossil fuel systems when we can use that same money to become completely sustainable,” Wolff said. “That’s why I’m here.”
    The first Hands Across the Sand protest took place as a statewide effort in Florida February as a protest against the state legislature’s efforts to lift the ban on offshore drilling near Florida. People from more than 60 towns participated and shortly after, the Florida legislature tabled the effort, Rauschkold said.

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