Eco-warriors found paying people to protest Chevron

Back in March, a group of self-professed eco-warriors got their butts handed to them on a platter in court when they were found to have fraudulently attempted to pick the deep pockets of Chevron to the tune of billions of dollars. You’d think that after a drubbing such as this that they’d learn their lesson, no? Well, it seems that some people just can’t take no for an answer.

Humberto Piaguaje, of bogus Ecuador lawsuit fame, organized and led a new protest against Chevron outside of their annual company meeting being held in Midland, Texas. He managed to get several dozen people to show up and wave signs complaining about how awful the energy giant is. (This is the same “awful” company that provides more than 30,000 jobs in the US alone.) So… several dozen protesters, eh? That’s some real grassroots activism for ya. But I’m sure they were all dedicated, fervent believers in the cause at least.

Well… not so much.

To fill out the ranks of the demonstration, a Los Angeles-based production company offered local residents $85 apiece to serve as what the firm described in a recruiting e-mail as “extras/background people.”…

Television station NewsWest 9 reported the faux protest on its website, noting that viewers “took to our Facebook page this morning saying they received e-mails bribing them with $85 to join this protest.” When I called [film producer Julieta] Gilbert in Los Angeles, she said she “didn’t organize” the protest but only “helped with it.” She professed confusion as to who exactly had commissioned the event and whose idea it was to pay $85 a person for “extras.” She didn’t dispute the authenticity of the recruiting e-mail and she said she’d been in Texas for the May 28 protest and had just returned to California.

So rather than angry, environmentally conscious activists, Chevron was actually “protested” by unemployed actors looking to make a few bucks as extras in what they thought was a film project. Nice. What’s even better is the accidentally hilarious description of the advertisement to hire the actors provided by Ms. Gilbert herself.

Julieta Gilbert, executive producer of DFLA Films, said in the e-mail that the company “need to get a group of people to help us document this event. … We will pay each one of them $85. They will be there for a couple of hours (8am to 12 pm). We need ethically [sic] diverse people.”

Clearly she was going for “ethnically” but there’s a lovely bit of irony there. Of course, for the majority of people who answered the advertisement, it seems unfair to plaster a label on them. I get the impression that they had no idea what they were actually getting into and simply thought they were getting a paycheck to fill in a crowd scene.

But this should still serve as a reminder. If the anti-energy left can’t get real Americans riled up over Chevron’s right to exist and do business, they will hire dupes to give the media a convincing looking story. That says a lot about the people behind this charade.

(You can browse the full history of our coverage of the Ecuador Chevron shakedown here.)