Idle No More Solidarity SF Bay led the march of over 2,500 people to Chevron in Richmond, California

Photo by Navajo

On August 3, 2013, Idle No More Solidarity SF Bay led the march of over 2,500 people to Chevron in Richmond, California. The march commemorated the 1 year anniversary of the Chevron refinery explosion and fire which sent 15,000 people to hospitals. The morning began with prayers by Dr. Melinda Micco (Seminole) and Wounded Knee Ocampo (Miwok) of the American Indian Movement, as well as a teach-in on the effects of fossil fuel on indigenous people.

The march began with INM women singing the Women’s Warrior Song and and being led by the Idle No More 10+ foot tall Mother Earth puppet and colorful banners that the group made. Songs were sung during the entire march, alternating with the AIM song and the Women’s Warrior song. Families with children waited at a park closer to the refinery and led the march from there to Chevron. It was important that the children were in the front since they and those yet to come are the reason we are rising up.

When INM arrived at Chevron a huge round dance ensued with hundreds of people joining in. Afterward, speakers at the rally in front of the gates of Chevron included the Mayor of Richmond, Gayle McLaughlin, Richmond activists and Bill McKibben. INM Solidarity SF Bay member, Pennie Opal Plant, was one of the two MCs at the rally. An art project that culminated in a giant sunflower was painted by children and adults using water-based paint in the street in front of the gates of Chevron.

Toward the end of the rally over 300 people who had committed to risk arrest by trespassing on Chevron property marched to the line of police officers at the front gates. There were five members of Idle No More Solidarity SF Bay who were arrested. The police ran out of the plastic cuffs and had to go get them from another city. It took so long to arrest people that in the end only 209 people were actually arrested with the others leaving it for another day. As of this date, no charges have been pressed.