Victims’ Voices: Latricia & Dre’vyon Jones

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“Of all the environmental crimes committed in the area over the course of 10 years, ‘Koch was the worst.’” –Texas Observer

Drevyon-Jones

Dre’vyon Jones

Dre’vyon Jones is a three-year-old who lives with his single mother, Latricia, in a community whose residents refer to as “cancer neighborhood.” The Jones’ live two blocks away from Koch-owned Flint Hills Resources oil refinery, which emits deadly greenhouse gases that cause cancer, birth defects, and lung damage.

Dre’vyon currently suffers from such crippling asthma that, in addition to the expensive, mood-altering medication he must take twice a day, he has to spend 30-60 minutes on a breathing machine every night. Yet “he’s still in the ER every other month.”

Doctors say, “as long as [they] live near the refineries, he’ll always have the asthma attacks.”

Like many in the Corpus Christi community, the Jones’ simply can’t afford to move away.

“Living next to the refineries is not only dangerous but a poverty trap, due to medical bills, missed work days and wages lost to illness,” wrote journalist Jen Reel in an expose for the Texas Observer.

Why is Jen Reel the only local journalist who brought attention to this issue? Because newspapers rely on advertising from the refineries. When university professor Melissa Jerrell tried to dig deeper, she was rebuffed.

“No one wanted to talk about the dirty side of industry. When I would go to the local media, they’d say, ‘Sorry, we don’t want to hear it because we get a lot of advertising from industry’.”

While Dre’vyon struggles to breathe as a toddler and his mother fights every day to make just enough money to get by, the neighboring Koch refineries continue to generate unfathomable profits for Koch Industries. The Kochs’ dirty secret is how they manage to make money off the poor and disenfranchised and then use their wealth to dissuade the media from covering the story and instead divert their attention to industry accusations against “big government” and the “job-killing EPA” that costs businesses money.

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