The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Joy Banner, PhD, The Descendants Project (225) 206-0257, 

Jen Nessel, Center for Constitutional Rights, (212) 614-6449,

Environmental Racism Case in Court Tomorrow: Black Descendants Challenge San Francisco Investor and Louisiana Parish with Lawsuit to Reverse Decades-Old Illegal Rezoning

"Green" Investor Christopher James attempts to use corrupt rezoning to build massive grain terminal that threatens health and safety of Black community in Louisiana.


On Thursday, December 16th, an organization that advocates on behalf of descendants of enslaved people will ask a district court to declare a decades-old rezoning in an area known as Cancer Alley null and void. The lawsuit stems from the corrupt dealings of a former parish president who, in 1990, illegally pushed through an ordinance that rezoned a tract of rural land for heavy industrial use in Wallace, an unincorporated town near the Mississippi River. The Parish President was convicted and sentenced to nearly five years in prison, but the illegal rezoning remained on the books. Now, San Francisco-based "activist" investor Christopher James, principal owner of Greenfield Louisiana, is relying on it to build a massive grain terminal yards away from a Black descendant community

Wallace residents see the project as a grave threat not only to their health but to the very existence of their community, which contains two landmarked former plantations and possible burial sites of enslaved people. Lawyers from the Center for Constitutional Rights, with co-counsel Bill Quigley, filed the suit on behalf of the Descendants Project, an organization co-founded by sisters Jo and Joy Banner, who are themselves descendants of people enslaved in the area.

What: Oral argument in Descendants Project v. St. John the Baptist Parish, a lawsuit challenging an illegal rezoning in Wallace, Louisiana, a historic Black community

When: Thursday, December 16, 2021, 10:00 a.m. CT


Who: Joy and Jo Banner; Center for Constitutional Rights Senior Attorney Pamela Spees will argue the case on behalf of the Descendants Project.

Where: 40th Judicial District Court, 2393 Highway 18, Edgard, LA 70049.

The case is part of the Center for Constitutional Rights' broader efforts to support activists and communities that challenge environmental racism, land theft, and abuses by corporate power. More information about the case is available here.

The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. CCR is committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change.

(212) 614-6464