Around two hundred people gathered Friday at the Richmond BART for a rally in celebration of Earth Day. During the event, organized by Occupy Richmond, protestors carried signs, sang songs and chanted slogans against Chevron.
Earth Day, meant to create awareness and appreciated of our planet’s natural environment, is celebrated in more than 175 countries. The first Earth Day was observed in San Francisco on March 21, 1970. In 2009, the United Nations officially made it a global event.
After being addressed by Mayor Gayle MacLaughlin and several local activists, protestors marched along Macdonaled Avenue to the civic center, where the rally continued. Jose Rivera, one of the organizers, said the original plan was to go to the Chevron refinery. “But we decided to organize a smaller march. We’ll first create momentum and awareness before we go there,” he said.
McLaughlin, who joined the protestors, said she was proud to stand with the Occupy protesters. At the Richmond BART, she addressed Chevron directly. “For over a hundred years, you have rained your pollution on our community,” she said. “On this Earth Day, we need to put the focus on big corporations. It’s tine that they do their part, in so many ways. It is wonderful to see so many people standing against Chevron. This is about empowerment.”
There were no disturbances during the rally, even though the protestors did not heed to the organizers’ request to “wait for red lights.” When passing a local Chevron station, several protesters asked others to stay off the property and keep the event peaceful.
But despite the good atmosphere, music and speeches, many felt personally harmed by Chevron. “Chevron is the largest producer of greenhouse gasses in the region,” said Tarnel Abbot, who has lived in Richmond for over two decades. “People are at risk. Not just in Richmond, but all over the state.”