Thousands of families, farm workers, students, Native Americans and environmentalists from across California descended on the capitol building in Sacramento on Saturday united under a single message to Governor Jerry Brown: "Don't frack with our state!"
In what is being called the largest anti-fracking action in California, organizers estimate that 5,000 protesters from across the state took part in the rally and march, which was organized by the coalition Californians Against Fracking along with over 80 individual environmental and public health organizations. Many traveled hours—from San Diego in the south and from Humboldt County in the north—by bus and rideshares to take part in the action.
"Gov. Brown has positioned himself as a climate champion, and we want to make it clear that as he decides whether to green light a massive expansion of fracking in California, his legacy is on the line," said Zack Malitz, one of the event organizers and Campaign Manager for environmental group CREDO.
Brown has increasingly come under fire for his support of gas and oil extraction through the process of hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking." As California continues to grapple with historic drought, many have noted that the amount of water used in the fracking process coupled with the threat of contamination to the drinking supply spells enormous risk for the state.
Addressing the crowd, residents who have already been forced to live near fracking sites described the toxic impact to their homes and communities.
"People need to know what fracking looks like," said speaker Rodrigo Romo, a former farmworker and activist in heavily fracked Shafter, CA in a statement ahead of the rally. "In the Central Valley there is no buffer between fracking sites and our community; there are wells next-door to schools and agricultural land. It is time for our decision makers to listen to us and stop fracking."
Following the speeches, the crowd encircled the capitol building holding signs calling on the governor to put a halt on fracking in the state.
"Enacting a moratorium is the only way for Governor Brown to protect California's people, water, and climate from the threat of fracking," said Food & Water Watch California Director Adam Scow. "Today's gathering showed the movement to ban fracking in California is growing bigger, stronger, more diverse, and more inspired than ever before. The pressure on Governor Brown will only increase until he does the right thing."
"Big Oil may have lots of money to throw around the state, but as we saw on Saturday at the rally, this movement is energized, committed, and not going anywhere," added David Turnbull of Oil Change International.
"The Governor can choose to stand with these concerned Californians and stop fracking in our state, or he can continue to stand with Big Oil," Turnbill continued.
The coalition Don't Frack California posted these pictures of the event: