Chevron’s Richmond Refinery: Shut Down By People Power!

posted by Matt Ran

chevron-poster-color.jpgYesterday, on March 15th, 2008, nearly 1,000 people gathered in Richmond, California – as part of a series of non-violent direct actions leading up to the 5th anniversary of the Iraq War. After 5 years, $2.8 trillion dollars wasted, 600,000 Iraqi’s dead, nearly 4,000 US soldiers dead, and opposition to the war at an all-time high – it’s time to say enough is enough. Our government’s priorities are way out of line, and the corporate influence from war profiteers and oil companies is clear. NO WAR! NO WARMING!

A few months ago, a group of us revived Direct Action To Stop The War (which organized tens of thousands of people to shut down San Francisco 5 years ago when the war started), and worked in conjunction with local Richmond community groups mobilize a diverse, multi-generational, multi-issue coalition to non-violently shut down one of Chevron’s largest oil refineries in the nation.

The demonstration was endorsed by Direct Action to Stop The War, Greenaction, West County Toxics Coalition, Amazon Watch, Richmond Progressive Alliance, Richmond Greens, Community Health Initiative, Communities for a Better Environment, Global Exchange, and Rainforest Action Network. The purpose of this action was to shut the Chevron refinery down for the day – to do our best to prevent oil from entering or leaving the refinery. By boat, by bike, and by foot – we mobilized a broad coalition of groups working on climate change, environmental justice, and anti-war efforts. This action is supporting ongoing community efforts to stop Chevron from expanding its refinery, which will increase pollution and further increase asthma, cancer and rising death rates in surrounding communities. Chevron is driving the war and occupation in Iraq, refining over a million barrels of stolen Iraqi oil in Richmond a month, and actively lobbying for the privatization of Iraq’s oil fields to further increase profits for the oil industry, and maintaining our addiction to climate-destroying fossil fuels.

No War! No Warming! No Pollution!

After a large rally with dozens of musicians and speakers on stage (including the Mayor of Richmond!), we marched to the refinery. Despite a massive police presence (225 officers on call), the large crowd surrounded the gate where trucks come in to refuel. About 75 people then sat down and blockaded the entrance to the refinery – many locking themselves to oil barrels and creating a massive, immovable human chain. Hundreds more rallied around those committing civil disobedience, and 2 woman scaled traffic poles to hang a giant banner above the crowd. Radical Cheerleaders, the Brass Liberation Orchestra, creative street theater and more kept the energy high. We watched as several tanker trucks remained parked on the inside of the gate for the rest of the day. (Typically, a truck leaves this gate every 5 minutes, throughout the day).

After a few hours of blockading the entrance, the group decided to take their demands even closer to Chevron. With the goal of “arresting Chevron” – people began unlocking from each other, proceeded to dismantle the police barricades, and marched directly onto the refinery property. After a tense standoff with police, the group continued their peaceful blockade of the entrance. Once dusk started to fall, 24 people refused to leave, and were eventually arrested by police. All were released later that night.

And on this Wednesday, March 19th – join thousands of people on the 5th anniversary of the Iraq War. Major protests will be held in San Francisco, Washington D.C., and around the country!

I’ll list a few corporate media stories below – this action was the lead story for several news cycles around the region and across the country. Check out the photos below, or visit for more photos and stories.






No Blood For Chevron
March 15, 2008
Antonia Juhasz, Alternet

Protest held at Richmond Chevron refinery
March 15, 2008
Sue Thompson, ABC 7 News

24 arrested at war protest outside Chevron
March 15, 2008
Tom Lochner and Mike Taugher, San Jose Mercury News

Antiwar Rally at Richmond Chevron
March 15, 2008

Evening News
March 15, 2008

Anti-War Protest Outside Chevron Refinery
March 15, 2008
Ken Pritchett, KTVU

Protest, attempted blockade at Chevron refinery in Richmond
March 15, 2008
Anastasia Ustinova, San Francisco Chronicle

March 15 protest scheduled at Chevron Richmond Refinery
March 14, 2008
East Bay Business Times