Protesters gather outside Halliburton's shareholder meeting
17 May, 2006
WASHINGTON, May 17(HalliburtonWatch.org) -- Halliburton held its annual shareholder meeting today in Duncan, Oklahoma, while 200 protesters from all over the world congregated outside chanting "Shame! Shame!" and "How do you sleep at night!"
The company's annual meetings have been held near its headquarters in Houston for the last 40 years, so it was surprising this year's meeting was held in Duncan, a small town located 80 miles southwest of Oklahoma City. Activists speculated the company was "running away" to Duncan to avoid the same negative publicity and arrests that hampered the 2004 and 2005 shareholder meetings.
Signs outside today's meeting read "Halliburton: You can run, but you can't hide."
"They're relocating to a city where they don't actually have to be accountable to their own shareholders," said Maureen Haver, spokeswoman for the Houston Global Awareness Collective and one of 15 protesters arrested at Halliburton's meeting last year. "They're going to a town they have in their pocket."
"We are holding our meeting in Duncan because we are a company that values our tradition and spirit of innovation -- much of which started in Duncan more than 80 years ago," Halliburton spokeswoman Cathy Mann said. "We are excited to showcase this heritage for our shareholders."
Sixteen protesters were arrested after peacefully attempting to enter the meeting for the purpose of issuing a "citizens arrest" against Halliburton's chief executive, David Lesar. The protesters sought to arrest Lesar on a myriad of charges, including bribery and defrauding U.S. taxpayers in Iraq.
Among the items discussed in the shareholder meeting were Halliburton's potential sale of its military businesses, which have been a public relations nightmare for the company and a boondoggle for American taxpayers. Halliburton's KBR subsidiary manages Halliburton's military businesses and management agreed last month to spin-off 20 percent of KBR through an initial public offering (IPO). Lesar said the company planned to follow the IPO with either additional public offerings or a sale to a competitor of the remaining 80 percent.
Other items discussed at the meeting include a proposal made by shareholders from the Benedictine Sisters of Mount St. Scholastica of Atchison, Kansas, who urged Halliburton to adopt explicit human rights policies. But shareholders, upon the recommendation of management, voted against the Sisters and to continue Halliburtonís existing policies.
Various activists spoke about the environmental impact of oil exploration in the Amazon, deaths resulting from explosions and other accidents associated with exploration in South America, an "immigration emergency" contract awarded by the Department of Homeland Security to build jails for undocumented immigrants, and the ongoing Nigeria bribery investigation by the Department of Justice.
A Nigerian activist traveled to Duncan to ask Halliburton's chief executive, David Lesar, about the Justice Department's investigation into alleged bribes paid by the company to officials of the Nigerian government. Michael Karikpo of Environmental Rights Action (Nigeria) said Lesar gave a quick, 30-second response that amounted to a polite brush-off.
One local media outlet, the Lawton Constitution, reported that "Lesar didn't address most of the specific concerns raised." Instead, he told shareholders he would have to "respectfully disagree" that Halliburton could be a better corporate citizen.
Anti-Halliburton activists arrested in Duncan:
Back row from left: Mary Francis, Will Covert, James Fain, Josh Tucker, Diane Baker, Carol Ezzel, Huti Reynolds, Hiram Myers, Jon Cantrell and Ivan Hutchcroft. Seated from left: Trent Goss, Joni LeViness, Maureen Haver, Chris McMullen, Katie Heim, and Jennifer Rooks.
Michael Moore.com: From Three Continents to Duncan, Oklahoma
Peace House, Oklahoma City
KGOU-FM Radio (Norman, OK): Protesters Greet Halliburton Shareholders (audio)
Darla Sheldon: 16 Citizens Attempt Citzens' Arrest of Halliburton CEO at the Shareholder's Meeting
Houston Global Awareness Collective
Democracy Now: Hundreds Gather in Duncan Oklahoma to Protest Outside Halliburton Shareholder Meeting
Lawton (Oklahoma) Constitution: Protesters in Duncan convey message about Halliburton peacefully