Business as usual proved impossible at Halliburton’s annual meeting in Houston on Wednesday.  --  The Financial Times of London reported that police on horseback had clashed with some of the 300 demonstrators who gathered to protest Halliburton’s war profiteering.[1]  --  Fifteen were arrested, and there were injuries on both sides. -- AP reported that there were “fewer participants than the estimated 500 who appeared outside last year's shareholders meeting.”[2]  --  Houston Indymedia gave more details on protesters (including Medea Benjamin, who was said to have got inside the meeting), posted many photos, and gave the names of those arrested.[3] ...



Energy Utilities Mining

By Sheila McNulty

Financial Times (UK)
May 18, 2005 (subscribers only)

HOUSTON -- Mounted police clashed with protesters outside Halliburton's annual general meeting on Wednesday, resulting in injuries on both sides and the arrest of 15 people.

About 300 people from across the country waved signs with slogans such as "War Profiteers" to protest against Halliburton's work providing support to the U.S. military in Iraq.

Amid them was a giant cow with "Iraq" emblazoned on the back and fake money pouring out of it.

"If Halliburton were not there, the U.S. could not have all the troops it has over there," said Cheryl Crosier, a 55-year-old consultant.

Several protesters went inside and locked arms to block shareholders from entering the meeting. Seven who refused to leave were charged with criminal trespass. One suffered scratches as he was dragged out.

Outside, some of the two dozen or so mounted riot police waved batons to disperse protesters they said were blocking access to the hotel's parking garage and pedestrian crossing.

Several protesters were hit in the resulting fracas and one was injured when a horse stamped on her foot.

One officer was kicked in the face and pushed to the ground, another kicked and a third punched. A horse was also assaulted.

In the confrontation, eight protesters were arrested, variously charged with evading arrests and assault.

"We respect everyone's right to demonstrate," said police Lt Robert Manzo. "But one thing we will not tolerate is anyone breaking the law."

The demonstrators insisted they had only been peaceful and the police were over-zealous.

"Halliburton is one of the main corporations fuelling this war," said Darcy Kerschen, a 22-year-old student. "There is so much death it just needs to stop."

Halliburton's engineering and construction arm, KBR, is the biggest contractor to the U.S. military in Iraq, where it provides everything from meals to transport to oil field repair services.

Dave Laser, Halliburton's chief executive, said after the meeting that the recent fall in oil prices was not hurting the company. "Our customers certainly still have plenty of cashflow."

The meeting was closed to the media this year.


By Kristen Hays

** More Than 200 Protesters Flank Halliburton Shareholder Meeting; 15 Arrested **

Associated Press
May 18, 2005

HOUSTON -- More than 200 protesters flanked Halliburton Co.'s annual shareholders meeting Wednesday, adding drama to an otherwise perfunctory gathering to elect directors and retain auditors. Fifteen were arrested.

"I'm here to stand against corporate greed," said Cynthia Daly of Dallas, criticizing the oil services conglomerate's work in Iraq. She was one of two protesters whose feet were stepped on by police horses when demonstrating. Paramedics treated their injuries at the scene.

The two injured protesters were part of a group that blocked the exit of a parking garage, and mounted officers used the horses to push them out of the way after they ignored orders to move.

"Everything's been a public relations nightmare for them," Jeff Grubler, a protester from San Francisco, told the group more than an hour after the meeting ended. "We have to keep the nightmare going."

The protest, which had been planned and advertised for weeks, attracted fewer participants than the estimated 500 who appeared outside last year's shareholders meeting.

Halliburton, run by Vice President Dick Cheney for five years until he resigned in 2000 to be President Bush's running mate, has been under fire since the beginning of the war in Iraq. Its engineering and construction subsidiary, KBR, is the largest U.S. contractor in Iraq with more than $10 billion in work orders from the Army to support U.S. troops and rebuild Iraq's oil industry.

Various agencies are investigating allegations of overbilling and favoritism because of Cheney's past connections, but the company has consistently denied wrongdoing. Cheney and the Pentagon also have said the vice president plays no role in contract decisions.

J.D. Hughes of Austin, a buyer and seller of oil properties who has been a Halliburton shareholder for seven years, said he was unfazed by critics.

"I came here to show my support for Halliburton," he said.

Dave Lesar, Halliburton's chairman and chief executive, said after the meeting that Halliburton "is still evaluating" how to separate KBR from the parent company.

Lesar also said recent drops in oil and gas prices haven't affected Halliburton's business. Crude oil prices that surpassed $58 a barrel last month fell to less than $48 Wednesday.

"Clearly, at least the short-term slide back in commodity prices doesn't seem to have had an impact on our U.S. business. Our customers certainly still have plenty of cash flow," Lesar said.

Shareholders re-elected Lesar and eight other directors and retained KPMG as the company's outside auditor.

Outside, at least 25 mounted police officers lined up behind barricades to prevent protesters from disrupting the meeting. Eight got inside the hotel where the meeting was held, sat down and locked arms. They were bound either with handcuffs or flex cuffs and led or carried away.

Houston police Lt. Robert Manzo said seven of those who got inside were arrested for criminal trespass. Another eight were arrested outside for evading arrest or on misdemeanor assault charges for kicking or hitting police officers and one of the horses.

"Halliburton supports the rights of protesters," the company said in a statement . "Even if they don't have the facts right, they have a right to speak up."

Halliburton shares fell 73 cents, or 1.8 percent, to close at $40.78 Wednesday on the New York Stock Exchange.



Houston Independent Media
May 18, 2005

Action Update: Four women and six men are at Houston Police Southeast, 8300 Mykawa and six men at at Houston Police Central, 61 Reisner. To donate to legal defense, use the paypal account.

There is a benefit concert tonight with Free Radicals at Helios at 411 Westheimer, where you can come and hear the latest update and party for your right to fight.

Several people have posted first-hand text accounts of today's actions: 1, 2, 3. Post your own account (or video, photos, audio, etc.) here. Listen to the archives of the live audio webcast from the action: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. See photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10.

At the Four Seasons this morning, before 8 am, barricades were erected, over 30 Houston horse police, undercover cops and heavy foot police presence (photos) was amassed. By 8:30, the march had reached the hotel, with about 140-300 protesters with lots of puppets, and signs such as "stop cronyism." Dick Cheney flashed people video, photo, activists held signs, played a samba and did a funky dance. A break-away march was met by Houston Police, who attempted to corral them, with one arrest occurring. By 9 am, there were 12 activists inside the hotel. Four were escorted out by hotel security and Houston police, while the rest were detained. Outside, things began heating up with pushing, cops on horses and arrests (photos: 1, 2, 3, 4). Some concerns have been raised about cruelty to the horses. The horses trampled several people (videos: 1, 2).

Police used pain compliance on occupation inside hotel. Media were not allowed inside the shareholders meeting and protest. Police Officer # 4961, S. M. Forrester, admitted to a female activist that he had lost control of himself. Andrea Buffa and Medea Benjamin of Global Exchange, got inside meeting and directly questioned war-profiteer / Halliburton CEO David Lesar. Prathap Chatterjee of Corp-Watch had a private five minute meeting with him which ended in vague assurances.

Arrested: Herb Rothschild, David Graeve, Katie Heim, Ellie Shenker, Maureen Haver, Diane Wilson, Jonathan Kresha and Kendle Greenlee were arrested inside (photos, videos: 1, 2, 3). David Solnit, an anonymous male, James Foley, Baku, David Martinez, Andy Peterson, Rolando Maya, Chris McMullen were arrested outside. Baku and David Martinez, both out of town indymedia videographers, were arrested while shooting video. David was dragged by his neck by a cop while trying to go to the sidewalk as instructed (video, photos: 1, 2). There have been many class B misdemeanors, but it is possible some will be charged with assault.