Geez, talk about overkill and a complete waste of police resources! It tells you a lot about the relationship between Chevron and the City of Richmond. One of the major complaints and reasons given for the high crime rates in Richmond is that there are not enough police. OK, fair enough. If I had the inclination to be a police officer and I had my choice of some sleepy bedroom community or Richmond, I’d probably take the sleepy bedroom community. But, from the heavy police presence here in Point Richmond today you would never know there was a shortage of police.
I just came back from anti-Chevron rally in “downtown” Point Richmond. As with most protests these days, there were a number of issues being protested, but the two major points today were Chevron being a very bad corporate neighbor, and the war in Iraq. I would guesstimate there were maybe 200 people there. Maybe. And for those 200 people, there were at least 15 officers on site, plus another 2 or 3 dozen blockading the streets in Point Richmond leading to the Chevron refinery. I had to show ID to get home for crying out loud! And the two freeway exits for the Point have likewise been closed. I’m sorry, but isn’t this a bit of overkill?
I’m no big fan of Chevron. Like other oil companies, they make obscene profits and lord knows what kinds of shenanigans they are involved with overseas in the Middle East and Africa. But, that is almost to be expected. I was the one who chose to live next to a major oil refinery. They were here first. I am in no position to complain about business as usual. Because of the presence of Chevron, I could afford to live in this lovely, quaint, bay-side, Marin-like community. If it weren’t for Chevron and the railroad yards that border the Point, this area would probably become a more desirable and expensive area to live.
However, lately (and probably before that) Chevron has not being a good neighbor. They are disputing the taxes they owe Richmond, and now they are apparently withholding information regarding some “enhancements” they wish to make to the refinery. With all the profits they make it is absolutely criminal that they are not paying their fair share of taxes. Because of Chevron’s greed desperately needed city services may not be able to be funded. You know, such luxuries as libraries, fire stations, and schools. It makes me sick. And our City Council also has a history of rolling over like a big sweet dumb dog every time Chevron comes around.
During our last election, Richmond elected a Green mayor, Gayle McLaughlin (below), which for an industrial, urban city was pretty freakin’ awesome. Yet, most of the City Council is no where near as progressive, so there hasn’t been that much change yet.
Later in the day . . .
Wow. Well, that was exciting. I decided to go out and grab something for lunch and I couldn’t get out of town. All routes of escape were blocked. The most disturbing part of it was was when I was trying to turn my car around a motorcycle officer put on his siren and started shouting at me to PARK THE CAR. PARK IT NOW! uh . . . ok. Damn. But, at least I had a front row seat to the march as they walked by on their way to the Chevron gates.
It looked like the usual suspects you see at an anti-war protest. Well meaning, but perhaps a bit naive. Without a strong unified actionable message, it gets depicted as just another gathering of discontents upset about the state of the world. They end up only preaching to the choir, which may feel good, but ultimately it is very ineffective. I think there was an opportunity to let the larger community know about what a rotten corporate neighbor Chevron has become, but it got lost in all the usual anti-war rhetoric. Me, I’m going to the Planning Commission meeting this week where they are going to discuss the decidedly unsexy Chevron EIR and show my support for the city not approving it.