Protesters Descend on Chevron's Richmond Refinery For Climate Justice, To 'Cap The Crude'

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Indybay.org

Protesters Descend on Chevron's Richmond Refinery For Climate Justice, To 'Cap The Crude'

by
MC Jista

Richmond, CA – Hundreds of Richmond community members joined climate
change advocates, public health experts, local government and labor
leaders on Monday in a colorful march, protest and non-violent civil
disobedience at Chevron’s Richmond refinery. After a festival outside
the Richmond BART station with music, dancers and speakers, and an
hour-long march that wound through the city streets, a mass die-in and
nonviolent civil disobedience took place at the refinery gates.
Thirteen people were arrested.

The actions outside Chevron
were organized by a new coalition–The Mobilization for Climate
Justice-West–whose goals are to get Chevron to “cap the crude” at its
Richmond refinery and to get al l corporations, including Chevron, out
of the international climate talks in Copenhagen in December. Chevron
wants to process heavier crude at its Richmond refinery. Refining
heavier crude will result in more air pollution, greater greenhouse gas
emissions and disease.

“Chevron has the opportunity to do the
right thing,” said Mayor of Richmond, Gayle McLaughlin. “They just need
to agree to capping the crude at the level they currently refine. We
want them to put Richmond’s residents to work modernizing and replacing
the 80 year old boilers, which sadly they chose to remove from the
project several months ago. ” “We want Chevron to build a cleaner and
safer refinery,” said Ana Orozco of Communities for A Better
Environment. ”We want the union jobs to continue to build a refinery
that is cleaner and safer for our community. Our community has been put
at risk for too long.”

“Chevron has clearly attempted to
drive a wedge between workers and the Richmond community in order to
avoid being held accountable to the community’s demand for clean air
and a healthy environment,” said Charles Smith, Chief Steward of AFSCME
Local 444, “We support the community in this struggle.”

After
a peaceful, celebratory march through the streets of Richmond, the
marchers arrived at the gates of the refinery and were met with a heavy
police presence. Participants staged a mass die-in while Suanu Bere of
Nigeria, Nyunt Than of Burma, Nathan Brinley, a US veteran of the Iraq
War, and speakers from Richmond described the death caused by Chevron
and its operations around the world. “What is unique about Chevron is
the network of Chevron-affected communities that have joined together
in opposition to the brutality of the company’s operations,” said
Antonia Juhasz, director of the Chevron Program at Global Exchange. “We
are here with groups from across the Bay Area and around the world,
banding together to create a mass people’s movement to achieve
meaningful policy change to force Chevron and the entire oil industry
to be cleaner, safer, more humane, and equitable everywhere.”

After the die-in, a “clean-up crew” entered into the refinery through
the police barricade in an attempt to make the refinery cleaner and
safer. Thirteen “cleaners” were arrested, including Reverend Kenneth
Davis of Richmond, while rally participants supported them with chants
and songs. The chalk outlines of the dead remained after the protesters
left the refinery.
“The North Richmond community is on the
frontline of Chevron’s chemical assault. We have experienced a lifetime
of chemical exposure, asthma, cancer and death. These are human rights
violations. West County Toxics Coalition will fight until there is no
net increase in emission from the Chevron Hydrogen Expansion Project,”
said Henry Clarke, the Executive Director of the West County Toxics
Coalition.

The protest at Chevron was part of a campaign to
generate political pressure and “street heat” leading up to the
international climate change talks to be held in Copenhagen in
December. Other protests will be held later in the year and in other
parts of the country.

“People, not corporations, should drive
the critical climate talks in Copenhagen,” said Ananda Lee Tan, a
member of the Mobilization for Climate Justice spokescouncil and the
U.S. Campaign Coordinator for the Global Alliance for Incinerator
Alternatives. “To date, at the United Nation’s climate talks, corporate
lobbyists have outnumbered representatives of governments and civil
society groups by a ratio of as high as 4 to 1. We want Chevron and all
corpor ate lobbyists banned from, and frontline community voices
represented at these talks.” ”The MCJ seeks to empower community-based
activist groups and networks to lead a global climate justice movement
in confronting the root causes of climate change at home,” said Torm
Nompraseurt of theAsian Pacific Environmental Network, “while defining
community priorities and self-determination pathways for a new energy
economy.”

The Mobilization for Climate Justice-West includes
more than 35 diverse groups: AFSCME Local 444, Amazon Watch, Art in
Action, Asian-Pacific Environmental Network, Bay Area Labor Committee
for Peace and Justice, Bay Localize, Burmese American Democratic
Association, Communities for a Better Environment, Contra Costa Greens,
Direct Action to Stop the War, Earth First!, Environmental Justice
& Climate Change Initiative, Filipino American Coalition for
Environmental Solidarity (FACES), Forest Ethics, Global Alliance for
Incinerator Alternatives, Global Exchange, Global Justice Ecology
Project, Greenaction for Health and Environmental Justice, Greenpeace,
Headrush, International Forum on Globalization, International Rivers,
Justice in Nigeria Now!, Movement Generation, Pacific Environment, Poor
Magazine, Rainforest Action Network, Richmond Mayor’s Task Force on
Environmental Justice and Health, Progressive Bengali Network, Richmond
Progressive Alliance, Ruckus Society, Rising Tide North America,
Solidarity, West County Toxics Coalition, Youth In Focus, 350.org

For more information, see west.actforclimatejustice.org/

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