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HOUSTON —Gulf Coast hoteliers and hundreds of small business owners gathered Thursday at the headquarters of BP America in Houston to protest being excluded from compensation of their financial losses from the 2010 BP oil spill. Others have applied for assistance and were successful. But for these hotel owners, BP ha srefused.
"This strong turnout emphasizes the frustration among small business owners who were impacted by the oil spill and who are now being ignored by BP," explained Dipak "Danny" Patel, a hotel owner from Texas and a board member of the Asian American Hotel Owners Association (AAHOA). The franchise owner organized the event along with other AAHOA leaders and members.
"It also underscores the determination and the solidarity of our group in gaining the settlements which we are entitled to and which BP is legally obligated to provide," added Ricky Patel, an attorney and senior partner with Farrell & Patel. He represents many of the affected hoteliers and small business owners.
During Thursday's protest, a BP employee engaged in discussions with protest leaders, but no date was set for substantive discussions.
"There are thousands of small business owners in the Gulf Region, from Texas to Florida, who have suffered significant economic loss," declares Alkesh Patel, chairman of the 11,000 member strong AAHOA. "Our individual voices and claims have been dismissed until now, but our collective voice is impressively strong and will be impossible for BP to ignore."