Memphis, Tennessee, correspondent Adrian Sainz reported on a land grab for a proposed oil pipeline, conveying the news in the most compelling way possible, from the perspective of the people involved. The story is told largely through the eyes of Clyde Robinson, a 80-year-old landowner fighting against larger forces to keep his land in what advocates say is textbook environmental racism.
Robinson, who is Black, compared the effort to seize his land through eminent domain to slavery, when members of his own family were not compensated for their work. He vowed that no amount of money would convince him to change his mind.
Environmental lawyers who have taken up Robinson’s cause questioned the legitimacy of the effort, saying there’s no public interest that would justify seizure of the land for a business project.
And a spokeswoman for the pipeline project walked back a statement by a land agent who told a public meeting that the company had chosen “a point of least resistance” for the pipeline's proposed path. That statement was interpreted by the project’s opponents as having discriminatory undertones. The company later told Sainz they intended only to say that they had chosen a path that would have the least possible impact on the community.