My neighbor Chevron

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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?

Just hanging out

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.

Mayor McLaughlin

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.

crowd

bloody-hands.jpg

antiwar-bus.jpg

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.

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5 responses »

  1. yeah, it’s kinda interesting how hard authority will crack down when it’s something they can actually control. It’s like they’re asserting their manhood in a situation where there’s no risk.

    The bus is cool. I understand what you mean about the protesters losing the message in the message. In portland we have huge anti-war rallies from time to time, but inevitably the whole thing ends up being futile because the handful of nutbars who do crazy shit get all the press, often turning the tide of public opinion against the whole rally.

  2. Mike – Thank you, and welcome!

    Corina – I did end up going to the Planning Commission meeting. Well, attempted to. Chevron had gotten there first with a few hundred employees and took up all the seating and public speaking time. I ended up watching the farce on TV. They ended up tabling a decision for another three weeks, but have closed the public comments part of the hearing, despite the fact that opposition never got a fair chance to be heard. It kinda sucks what a grip Chevron has on this city.

    Amurin – After the protest and the Planning Commission meeting, where there was also a very large police presence (protecting the Commission from what? The actual citizens of Richmond??), I’m starting to believe that our local police are more interested in protecting the corporate rights of Chevron than their own people.

    I have mixed feelings about protest marches and rallies. On one hand, if you have a lot of people out in the streets peacably protesting, it’s one way of opting out of the assumption of silence = acquiessence. On the other hand, I sometimes I have hard time associating myself with some of the more radical protestors and their message. Because you KNOW the opposition will focus on the most extreme messages and blow those out of proportion. Also, some of these people are just as angry and selfish as those that they protest against, as I jokingly refer to some of the professional protestors: Pissed Off People For Peace.

    Mr. mellow NOT – yes, many people, including myself, are addicted to earl. The first step is admitting it. Good job.

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