Zombie Coal-pocolypse: hundreds march against coal to Tagami’s home
On the eve of Halloween, Monday October 30th, hundreds of middle and high school students, union members, and Oakland activists participated in a “Zombie March on Coal” to the home of Oakland developer Phil Tagami to protest his attempt to overturn the city’s 2016 ban on the storage and handling of coal in Oakland.
In the wake of the fires in the North Bay, when Oakland experienced some of the worst air quality in recent memory, residents can’t accept that Phil Tagami has brought a costly lawsuit against the City of Oakland in an attempt to bring even more air pollution to the Bay. “He seems intent on poisoning the lungs of our little ones, all to enrich himself and his business partners,” said Brooke Anderson of Climate Workers. “Those aren’t Oakland values and Oakland won’t sit idly by.”
Marchers made up as “zombies” and covered in “coal dust” marched to Tagami’s home in the Oakland hills, where youth set up a Halloween carnival, to educate the Oakland developer and his neighbors about coal’s role in driving both climate and public health crises and to celebrate the resilience and determination of young Oaklanders. Marchers demanded that Tagami drop his lawsuit, scheduled to go to trial in Federal District Court in January — and choose a thriving, healthy Oakland instead. Participants in the Zombie March on Coal expressed urgent concern for the public health danger from toxic coal dust, which would result from shipping coal through the city.
“Last year, nearly two dozen labor unions joined the fight to ban coal in Oakland because we know that workers need both good jobs AND clean air. Many of our members – predominantly working class families and people of color – live and work in the path of the coal trains and will suffer the worst public health impacts. We fought hard for the ban and we will defend it. We are here today to join the call for Phil Tagami to drop the lawsuit, which has delayed jobs at the port, and to instead put Oaklanders to working building an economy that works for both people and planet,” said Wei-Ling Huber, President of UNITE HERE 2850, the union representing hotel, restaurant, and gaming workers in the East and North Bays, who MC’ed the rally.
Jada Delaney, a senior at Oakland Tech said: “I acknowledge and recognize the effects coal has on everyone in Oakland, and the impact it has on the community. I want to advocate for everyone in our community, and also want to show other people who might think that coal doesn’t impact them. There’s no wall separating the people in the hills with the people in the flats of Oakland. We will all be affected. As Oakland residents, we have a responsibility to stand up and take care of each other in this way.”
Monday’s march and carnival were organized by Climate Workers, and co-sponsored by 20+ youth, labor, and environmental justice organizations in Oakland, including No Coal in Oakland. Climate Workers is a project of Movement Generation Justice & Ecology Project.
Photo credits: Kim White.