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

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

9 Responses to “Chevron’s Richmond Refinery: Shut Down By People Power!”

  1. 1 Nina Rizzo Mar 19th, 2008 at 7:18 pm

    thanks for making sure this significant, alliance-building festival, march and direct action got shared. it was really inspiring to be part of something that included many types of groups that understand all the connections and found common ground to work together.

    also want folks to know that students (as far as 2 hrs away!) came to participate with their hearts and hands -volunteering throughout the day and gaining experience that can spread even farther on the campuses. their presence was testament to the increased understanding of the links between climate change, environmental justice, oil, war and U.S. imperialism.

    tomorrow is follow-up: community members and allies will urge the Planning Commission to vote against Chevron’s dirty crude expansion project. *fingers crossed*

  2. 2 thatguy Jun 25th, 2008 at 1:07 pm

    Simply a point of curiosity, but how many of those protestors drove gas-powered cars to the rally? I’m willing to bet the mayor of Richmond didn’t walk or ride a bike! I am, personally, deeply concerned for the environment, but let’s be reasonable. Unless you all want to trade in your cars for horses and buggies, then please, present a viable alternative. I, for one, make 30k a year, most of which is paid out in the form of child support, and insurance premiums for my children. I certainly can’t afford a hybrid. When you, the environmental movement, can find a reasonable, affordable method for the production of energy, the power for transportation, and the convenience of daily life, which you love as much as anyone else…well…then, and only then, will mainstream America be willing to truly listen to what you say. So, rather than trying to shut down oil refineries, why not put all of your strength, unity, and intelligence into the aforementioned viable alternative.

  3. 3 Common Sense Jul 8th, 2009 at 12:18 am

    I’m all for the environment and clean air, but Common Sense needs to prevail here. We are too focused on stopping everything associated with hurting the environment without considering the consequences. In short, over 1,000 people will lose their jobs, 130 million dollars the City of Richmond really needs will not be given, and our dependence on foreign oil will only increase. All this will happen because the judge and the CBE want to stop Chevron from producing heavy crude oil.

    The problem lies in the fact that no one understands how a refinery works and Chevron is planning to build. As ironic as it may be, Chevron does not have the equipment necessary to refine heavy oil and is not planning to build it either. The majority of the project is to increase their productivity and replace old equipment they have.

    I just find it funny how people are protesting something they do not understand. Good job, but last time I checked that’s not how our country was built and those types of actions that will truly not get this country out of the recession it is in.

  1. 1 Chevron’s Richmond Refinery: Shut Down By People Power! | A First Aid Trackback on Mar 17th, 2008 at 7:12 am
  2. 2 OB Rag » Media black-out of antiwar protests continues as demonstrators continue to protest 5th anniversary of Iraq war Trackback on Mar 18th, 2008 at 1:13 am
  3. 3 Tough week for Chevron. No buisness…peroid! « It’s Getting Hot In Here Trackback on Mar 21st, 2008 at 2:02 pm
  4. 4 Richmond GREENS Stands with many others Against War and Pollution « Contra Costa Green Blogger Trackback on Apr 1st, 2008 at 2:31 pm
  5. 5 Action and Hope at Climate Ground Zero « It’s Getting Hot In Here Trackback on Aug 12th, 2009 at 11:43 pm
  6. 6 The Understory » Fifth Anniversary of Iraq War Brings More Direct Action Trackback on Jul 30th, 2010 at 7:27 pm
Comments are currently closed.

About Matt

Matt lives in San Francisco, where he enjoys working on climate justice and energy issues, supporting direct action as a strategy for social change, rock climbing, biking, punk rock, and the plethora of vegan food options. He has been involved in radical social justice and ecological movements for over 15 years.

Community Picks