More than 90 protesters gathered at the steps of Richmond’s Memorial Auditorium today in support of Occupy Wall Street. Under cloudy skies, protesters spoke out against wealth inequality, big banks, corporate greed and Richmond’s own “1%”: Chevron Corp.
City Councilmember Jeff Ritterman voiced his disapproval of Chevron’s recent property tax appeal, which would refund $150 million dollars to the multinational company.
“If Chevron gets $150 million … their shareholders get in line for another yacht … If Richmond has $150 million the library stays open,” Ritterman said.
Along with Ritterman, Mayor Gayle McLaughlin and Councilmember Jovanka Beckles attended the rally. McLaughlin said that Councilmember Tom Butt also supported the movement.
At the council meeting Tuesday, McLaughlin, Ritterman and Butt will propose a resolution requesting that Chevron withdraw its appeal to get a refund on its property taxes. Also on Tuesday, the council will discuss withdrawing the city’s money from Wells Fargo – a bank that Ritterman said dodged its income tax the past 3 years.
Mayor McLaughlin responded to criticism from local residents and various news outlets over her decision to attend Occupy instead of the Red Oak Victory Veterans Day event. She said she found it unfortunate that recent news media coverage pit the two events against one another.
“We clearly stand for veterans,” she said. “They are part of the event. Many are homeless, unemployed or suffering from mental illness. Today I stand with them as well as many people who are struggling in these times.”
Dennis Dalton, a veteran Teamster, Marine and a longtime Richmond resident said he admired McLaughlin and the other members of City Council for supporting the Occupy movement.
“It is rare for a city in California to have elected officials stand up for their views and stand up for their people,” Dalton said.
He said he wished more political leaders, like Congressman George Miller (D-Martinez), would listen to the movement.
As Dalton spoke the people chanted, “We are the people, right?
“Are corporations people?”
The group will reconvene Saturday at 1 p.m. They plan to occupy Bank of America in protest of the bank’s recent foreclosure on a Richmond family’s home.