Sunday, October 24, 2021

That time a law student stood up to White supremacists on Twitter

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Carlton Waterhouse is a 27-year-old law student at Harvard Law School and an environmental justice organizer.

Carlton Waterhouse took a real and pretty prominent role in an article published in The Washington Post this week about the Chesapeake Bay’s disappearing oyster population and whether the Environmental Protection Agency should undo its ban on the long-dormant superfund site known as the Hatcher Point toxic site.

Waterhouse’s latest effort to advance environmental justice comes after she helped win the graduation speech slot for environmental lawyers at Harvard’s Brevard School of Law. “At the time when not only the EPA, but also presidential candidates and corporate CEOs have shown little regard for environmental justice, I feel a duty to rise above an impossible dichotomy: Environmental justice or environmentalism,” Waterhouse wrote in her speech.

The Hatcher Point site is one of roughly 800 sites — largely toxic — that are on the EPA’s Superfund program. And if Waterhouse’s work with a group called Groundswell Environmental Advocacy was successful, perhaps the EPA will reconsider its decision to ban the area. Groundswell Environmental Advocacy owns Hatcher Point, and worked with Housing Works and Black Alliance for Just Immigration on helping make Waterhouse’s speak-out speech a reality at Brevard.

Waterhouse said in an interview with The Root that she, like her co-founders, take different views on environmental justice from the organization’s goal of “stopping pollution from impacting communities of color.”

Waterhouse is writing a law review article to document how Hatcher Point affects families across the Baltimore-Washington region. She’s also getting ready to advocate for a federal law that would force the EPA to respond to public health concerns related to environmental pollution sites. She got a peek at the political process in December when she talked with Elijah Cummings, a Democratic Congressman from Maryland, on the House floor about environmental justice and the toxic site, he said in an interview with The Root.

Waterhouse took issue with Cummings’ description of her work, he said. “She thinks I’m sort of turning her back on the people of Baltimore and state. I tell her, ‘Come to my office every day. Meet with people. If she wants to push me, she can push me.’ I’m not thinking about her for the United States of America. She comes here and I’m helping her meet people who are living in the poorest of areas. She sees me and thinks I just want to empower little white women in Virginia. It’s not that way at all.”

Waterhouse didn’t just get more than 1,000 signatures on a petition to allow residents to reclaim properties that were formerly part of the Superfund program. She became the “subject of a vulgar and offensive tweet from right-wing racist and fascist supporters who stated that I was part of the Illuminati or the KKK,” she said in a statement.

Waterhouse’s coworkers and friends on Twitter responded to those users, showing their support for the activist and the cause she is fighting for.

Hi @BooBreeBikini, I use the FCC to protect media ownership, education, etc. I’m not part of the Illuminati or KKK. I appreciate you trying to take down @creepyrobot18 — CarlWaterhouse (@CarlAaBrett) April 12, 2019

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