Sit-In at the Chevron Refinery, Richmond, CA, 5th Anniversary of the Invasion of Iraq, March 2008    (Photo: Jessica Tully) 

 

Yesterday, as we approach the 5th anniversary of this damned war, I went to a powerful rally at the Chevron refinery in Richmond, CA, where the war profiteers are choking the community with their pollution. Though we blocked the entire highway at Chevron’s gates, the cops decided to wait it out. First there was a march, from the rally in the park at Point Richmond to the poisonous Chevron refinery. There was a marching band, the Brass Liberation Orchestra, as well as a flatbed truck with music and MCs. Then the sit-in in front of Chevron, blocking the entire highway.

Earlier the cops had closed all of the off-ramps from Highway 80, which was a major deal, and while it’s great that this important demonstration was able to disrupt the flow of traffic-as-usual, the cop’s preemptive blockade of all the highway exits leading to Richmond kept away many folks who wanted to come protest. With some orange rubber cones and police cruisers, the State, once again, blocked citizens from exercising their constitutional rights. I was turned back twice by traffic cops steering all cars away from the rally and march area. To make it to the protest I had to sneak past the police checkpoint by driving through a hotel parking lot. Then, having missed the rally, I caught up to the march.

Some folks, about 24, were arrested at the very end, after we ignored the barricades and entered Chevron property. Dr. C., an Environmental Justice organizer from Richmond, listed Chevron’s crimes against the community, and my friend D., who always has a great way of framing things, said, ‘We’re going past the barricades to ARREST CHEVRON, so if you see any CEOs in there you can put them under citizen’s arrest.’ The cops freaked when we simply moved their iron gates. (I love disobedience to illegitimate authority!) Then we clustered together again in a sit-in; this time inside Chevron’s property. The arrests happened later, but I had left by then. It was a beautiful day in the streets.

There are huge marches this week in SF and around.

(Thanks to Jessica Tully for these photos of the protest.)