From Earth Day to May Day

  • No Coal in Oakland at the May Day march (Oakland, California; 1 May 2017). Photo: Steve Nadel.

From Earth Day to May Day, No Coal in Oakland activists were in the streets (and at Lake Merritt and the Brower Center) to talk about our campaign and to support the resistance against attacks on both the environment and our communities.

NCIO folks were visible in our new red tee shirts, with our old yellow banner, at the April 22 March for Science and the May Day Fruitvale march. We tabled at the April 29 festival at Lake Merritt and the April 21 Climate Expo at the Brower Center. And several of us joined the climate justice rally at the Environmental Protection Agency on April 21. At all of these events, NCIO speakers reminded the crowds of our ongoing struggle to keep coal out of Oakland.

Tabling led to conversations with many people who didn’t know that the city’s ban on coal is threatened by Tagami’s lawsuit, and others who wanted more information about the court case. We collected many signatures for our Open Letter to Tagami and sold almost all of our tee shirts. We expect to have more tee shirts available soon.

At these events, we publicized our work in the context of fights for environmental justice throughout California and in solidarity with struggles for human rights and equality.

In addition to participating in the local events that were part of national actions, we joined a demonstration at the office of the Environmental Protection Agency. Greenaction brought grassroots activists from around California and Arizona who are fighting for environmental justice in places including Bayview-Hunters Point, Modesto, Kettleman City, Richmond, and Los Angeles. We heard from indigenous elders and youth. One speaker, along with young activists from East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice, was mark! Lopez. A couple of days later it was announced that he was awarded the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize.

Before the Oakland march on May Day, NCIO joined others in the Climate Contingent who gathered in front of a Citibank branch conveniently located at Fruitvale Plaza. Street theater demonstrated how the same Wall Street institutions are funding oil pipelines (including the Dakota Access Pipe Line), private prisons and detention centers, and development leading to gentrification and displacement. The audience was invited to propose solutions. These included sustainable energy, community choice energy, restorative justice, amnesty for immigrants, credit unions, a public bank, and public housing with land trusts. Ms. Margaret Gordon spoke about the No Coal in Oakland campaign, and other speakers represented Idle No More Bay Area, Local Clean Energy Alliance, Asian Pacific Environmental Network and Climate Workers.

The May Day march continued this theme of unity in response to attacks on our communities and our planet. NCIO will continue to support the resistance as we work with our allies to build a society based on justice.