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