My Full Speech Outside Chevron's Cancer-Causing Refinery in California
"Chevron tried to use its attacks to silence us. They failed."
Last weekend I had the honor of speaking at a rally outside Chevron’s colossal refinery near San Francisco in the small town of Richmond. This refinery has victimized the town’s 110,000 residents for decades by spewing toxic air pollution over nearby neighborhoods. This pollution has shortened lives, increased cancer rates, and aggravated asthmatic conditions. The link below (after my speech) to an excellent article from The Guardian provides background.
It was a touching experience for me to connect with Richmond residents who for years I had admired from afar as they organized against the company. One told me, “You showed us how to do this.” Another said, “We follow you. Keep it up. It’s an inspiration.” After seeing so few people for the 993 days of my detention, just to be able to walk around the streets and bump into people who reacted to me in a positive way gives me a sense of wonderment. In fact, most little things that in my haste I used to not notice are giving me a new sense of wonderment.
Richmond has become a sort of laboratory for the fossil fuel industry to see how much control it can exercise over the local political process. Its goal is to continue to pollute with relative impunity and with minimal interference from local authorities.
Chevron has spent millions of dollars to try to turn Richmond into a company town. It has funded the political campaigns of oil-friendly local candidates to try to take over the Richmond City Council. That failed. For years Chevron has funded an online “news” outlet in Richmond (The Richmond Standard) to provide Chevron-friendly “coverage” while trying to leave the false impression that the outlet is independent. This outlet is actually run by Sam Singer, a paid Chevron public relations flak; it seems to have almost no credibility although it posted a hit piece on me the day I spoke. Local elected leaders in Richmond such as former Mayor Gayle McLaughlin, Council Members Guillermo Martinez and Claudia Jimenez, and many others have battled tenaciously to keep the political process in their town democratic. Many have visited Ecuador and connected with the local leaders with whom I have worked for so many years.
We are becoming one big family of activists who are fighting for justice and a clean planet.
I thoroughly enjoyed meeting and supporting the heroic frontline Earth Defenders of Richmond on global Anti-Chevron day. My full remarks are below followed by the background story in the The Guardian. Thank you for your support!