The following post was written by Global Exchange Development Associate, Jessica Nuti.
Exactly one year ago today during our weekly staff meeting, Global Exchange staff and interns shared and discussed the Chevron refinery explosion that had just happened in Richmond, CA.
A few of our staff and interns live in close proximity to the Chevron refinery and had witnessed the devastation caused by a leaking pipe that exploded. Many of us saw plumes of black smoke enveloping the east bay sky. Zarah thought a bomb had gone off. Drea expressed concern about breathing in the toxic air. It was a day that none of us will ever forget.
Because Global Exchange is a part of the True Cost of Chevron Network, we are well aware of Chevron’s ongoing atrocities around the world. But when the pollution wafts into the air we breathe in such a visible way, it really hits home, as it has for so many other communities affected by Chevron over the years.
So in light of the one-year anniversary of the explosion at the refinery, this past weekend Bay Area residents (including many Global Exchangers) came together and stood up against Chevron for a ‘Summer Heat’ action.
In sunflower power fashion, thousands of people from all over the Bay Area and beyond took to the streets this past Saturday, August 3rd to demand Chevron stop its destructive practices negatively impacting the planet, the people of Richmond, and around the world.
The Summer Heat Richmond masses marched about 2 miles from the Richmond BART station to the Chevron refinery chanting in unison with vibrant banners and signs, and carrying the central symbol of the day, the sunflower.
Many organizations helped make the demonstration a success, including Urban Tilth, 350BayArea.org, Idle No More, Labor Unions, nurses, and many others who also took a stand against Chevron.
Thanks to Urban Tilth, hundreds of sunflowers were brought to the demonstration, giving the march, rally, and nonviolent direct action a beautiful visual with great meaning; sunflowers have the power of extracting heavy metals from the ground.
For example, as sunflowers grow, lead-contaminated soil becomes safer for gardening. Since Chevron has been poisoning the planet for years, it seemed appropriate to deliver sunflowers to the dirty energy company to help it extract the toxins from its property.
Hundreds of individuals attempted to plant sunflower starters and seeds onto Chevron’s property after the march. Unable to get through Chevron’s gates, activists participated in a sit in blocking the refinery entrance.
These activists were later arrested, 210 in all, including a social worker named Maggie Mullen who experienced Chevron’s devastation first hand:
“I work for a hospital where 15,000 people were treated for respiratory issues due to the Chevron Richmond Refinery fire last year.
I was arrested with hundreds of others to take a stand for the folks I work with in Richmond who have suffered the physical and emotional impacts of dirty energy and for whom justice has not been served. I was arrested to send a beautiful and heartfelt message to Chevron to stop poisoning our air, our water, and our families and to transition to clean energy now.”
With tar sands extraction on the rise, the proposed Keystone Pipeline on the table, and oil companies continuing to put profits before all else, now is the time for people to come together and demand that Chevron and other oil companies respect communities and the planet.
- Participate in the Next No Tar Sands Action!
- See more photos from the Chevron protest in Richmond on Facebook.
- Use the “Tweet” and “Like” buttons on the top right to spread the word about this important action.