About 100 Demonstrators Show up at San Ramon Shareholder Gathering
By Sajid Farooq, Oakland Tribune
28 April 2005
San Ramon - About 100 protesters gathered outside ChevronTexaco headquarters in San Ramon on Wednesday to demonstrate against the oil giant.
Beginning at 7 a.m., local residents and people from across the globe gathered outside the company's building, at Bollinger Canyon Road and Sunset Drive, along a makeshift stage wrapped with images detailing alleged ChevronTexaco improprieties.
Standing in front of 10 San Ramon police officers and Bishop Ranch security members, colorful protesters - some holding anti-war banners, others dressed in penguin costumes with signs that read "get out of my home" - werehoping to affect those on their way into ChevronTexaco's annual shareholders meeting.
"The focus for me today was that Chevron's neighbors knew what was going on," said Antonia Juhasz with the ChevronTexaco anti-war campaign. She was there to protest against the company potentially benefiting from Iraqi oil profits. "(The shareholders) definitely saw us. You could see in their face that they saw us, (and) some of them had pain in their faces that they had to drive through us."
A few of the protesters were allowed to attend the meeting headed by ChevronTexaco CEO David O'Reilly. About five people were allowed to address O'Reilly before the public comment section of the meeting was closed.
While there were several issues protesters wanted addressed, such as ChevronTexaco's dealings in Burma and Nigeria, their main focus was alleged pollution by the oil giant in the Ecuadorian rain forest. Humberto Piaguaje, a Secoya indigenous leader from Ecuador, was one of the few to speak to O'Reilly directly.
"I told him everything that was our beautiful jungle doesn't exist," he said. "We are living amidst disease (and) just like he needs life, we too need life. I hope that he understands that as a human being."
Rabbi Dan Goldblatt of the Beth Chaim Congregation in San Ramon was another who was able to attend the shareholders meeting. The rabbi was at the rally in solidarity with the Ecuadorians, and he said while ChevronTexaco does a lot of good in the San Ramon community, he hopes the company will reciprocate that kindness in its dealings overseas.
"We came here because so many executives, so many workers are some of the members of our community," he said. "This is not something that has happened - this is something that is happening, and they have to do something. In kindergarten we're taught to clean up our messes."
© 2005 ANG Newspapers