by Rachel Dovey
On Saturday morning, a crowd of roughly 2,500 people marched through Richmond to the Chevron refinery, some of them to crowd the corporation's gates, sit down and be dragged away by police in riot gear.
According to KTVU, 210 total were arrested during the sit-in following a march from the Richmond BART station. Protesters flooded West MacDonald, and wound under 580 to the oil giant's gates, where a Chevron flag waved beside the one with stars and stripes. Marchers carried signs protesting fracking and the proposed Keystone pipeline, along with more creative ones, like "Separate Oil and State."
The rally was organized by climate and labor groups, one of them Bill McKibben's 350.org. The non-profit calls for radical action and civil disobedience around climate issues, its joint premises being that 1. the amount of carbon in the atmosphere has already far exceeded a safe threshold (350 parts per million, hence the name) and 2. congress continues to deadlock on even the smallest cap-and-trade and taxing measures that might address this. 350.org relies on studies from NASA and MIT to paint a picture that is downright apocalyptic—and too well-documented to be untrue.
The march also engaged Richmond, because, in the words of the one organizer, Chevron has been a bad neighbor. The August 6, 2012 fire that sent a cloud of vaporized sludge into the air also sent 15,000 residents to nearby hospitals (a nurse who treated patients that day was among the first arrested). Richmond mayor Gayle McLaughlin spoke at the rally, announcing that the city planned to sue Chevron.
This morning, the refinery agreed to pay $2 million in fines, pleading no contest to a host of negligence charges.