Tuesday, August 6, 2013

1126. Global Warming: Thousands Marched Against Chevron in Richmond, California

By Bill McKibben, 350.org, August 6, 2013 
Photo: Shadia Fayne Wood/Project Survival Media
Last Saturday [August 3], I was walking back to the BART station to meet my wife after the police let us out of custody, and my walk took me through a residential section of Richmond on a pleasant sunny afternoon, and I had a chance to appreciate a bit of what daily life is like in the neighborhood: people playing music, barbecuing, shooting hoops.
That daily life was interrupted dramatically one year ago today when the Chevron refinery exploded and released toxic chemicals into the air, sending 15,000 people to the hospital; much like how daily life is interrupted around the globe almost constantly by flood or drought or storms.  
Daily life was also interrupted on Saturday -- in a good way, this time -- by a beautiful march and demonstration outside the Chevron refinery. Highlights included the magnificent sunflower mural that kids painted on the street; the thousands of sunflowers that we carried with us through the streets; the speeches by local leaders including a powerful elder of the Lao community; and the ride in the police wagon with six friends old and new. We were some of the first of 210 people who were arrested at the gates of Chevron's refinery -- so many that the police eventually ran out of zip cuffs.
The press even turned out -- see some of the coverage here: www.350bayarea.org/richmondaug3
The fossil fuel resistance won't prevail in a day, but it will prevail, because its a tough sunflower. Its roots are sunk in rich soil: community, collaboration, joy. Sue and I got to stand on the stage and look out at the strong, committed crowd -- for us it was the perfect ending to the weeks of Summer Heat, a wave of action that reached both coasts and many places in between.
So many thanks to the local leaders and strong organizations that made it possible -- this was a true team effort, bringing in support from labor, environmental justice and community groups, 70 in all.
This is the kind of disruption that the planet needs more of, and I hope to be a part of more with you soon,
Bill McKibben
P.S. The 350 Bay Area crew, who did a great deal of heavy lifting on the action Saturday, asked that this get passed along -- the local air quality board is taking a vote tomorrow on a resolution on Keystone XL, and they want to pack the room when it happens. Click here for details.

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