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Pro-Palestinian Protesters Block Chevron Headquarters During Meeting

Above photo: A group of pro-Palestine protesters block an entrance to Chevron offices on Wednesday, May 29, 2024, in San Ramon, Calif. Aric Crabb/Bay Area News Group.

Pro-Palestinian protesters demanded that the energy company divest from its holdings in Israel.

And urged people to boycott the company.

Around 50 Bay Area protesters blocked the entrance to Chevron’s headquarters in San Ramon ahead of the company’s annual meeting Wednesday morning to draw attention to the company’s links to Israel’s military offensive in Gaza.

As shareholders and company officials gathered to discuss financial results for the oil and gas giant, chants from the crowd rang out: “Chevron, Chevron, you can’t hide! Blood for oil is a crime!”

Wassim Haj, a member of the Arab Resource and Organizing Center, said the aim of the protest was to “demand an end to Chevron’s complicity in the ongoing war in Gaza.” Haj said the protesters demanded that Chevron completely withdraw from their holdings in and around Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories and encouraged consumers to boycott Chevron until a full divestment was reached.

“We see here the ties between resource extraction from here all the way to the Bay Area that has negative impacts on our country, on the Middle East, about the environment in a moment of acute climate crisis that is only getting worse and these these massive spikes in violence against people, indigenous people in the Middle East, particularly in this case, the Palestinians in Gaza,” Haj said.

The protesters argued that Chevron supplies Israel with light and power that enable attacks in Gaza due to the company’s co-ownership and operation of deep-water gas fields in the eastern Mediterranean Sea. Reuters reported last year that the energy corporation retains 25% ownership in the Tamar gas field and operates and produces form the Tamar, Dalit and Leviathan gas fields, located off the coast of Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories. In February, The Times of Israel reported that the fossil fuel giant intended to invest $24 million into producing natural gas from the Tamar gas field.

“Chevron has a considerable profit, motive and stake in offshore drilling in Gaza. A significant majority of Israel’s energy is powered by stolen oil that Chevron is actually the main provider of,” Haj said.

The protesters chanted to a beat performed by 10 drummers, most of whom were wearing keffiyehs draped over their shoulders or tied around their heads. Some walked in circles, holding signs that read “Chevron out of Palestine” colored similarly to the Palestinian flag’s red, black and green design. A banner in front of them read, “Chevron stop fueling genocide in Gaza.”

Six protesters sat in front of an entrance to the building — some tied together by small chains — next to two large oil drums with signs saying “Chevron out of Palestine” plastered on them. A few members of the Thousand Grandmas, a climate justice organization, sat along the edges of the group.

“The grandmothers have tended to stand up when it’s scary for others to stand up because in some ways, we feel we have less to lose than others,” said Nancy Feinstein, a member of the Thousand Grandmas.

Shelley Seola, another member of the Thousand Grandmas, said Chevron was complicit in polluting both the air and water in the U.S., and in the destruction of life of Palestinians. She pointed out the Chevron’s hand in the injustice, saying Israel cut off fuel and electricity for the people in Gaza, while Chevron was supplying 70% of Israel’s energy needs.

“I would like the genocide to end. I would like there to be peace. I would like everyone to be able to breathe clean air, have fresh water,” Seola said. “Not just here, but around the world and certainly in Palestine.”

During the protest, a shareholder attending the meeting noted that the CEO had acknowledged the protesters’ presence. According to an account shared with the Bay Area News Group, Chevron CEO Mike Wirth said in the meeting that the company is deeply concerned with war and tension in the Middle East, but their goal is to safely deliver natural gas to Israel and Jordan — for which operations in the area have increased recently. The annual meeting was available for viewing online, but some shareholders attended in-person.

“Chevron respects the rights of people to express their views peacefully and lawfully, and we expect a similar level of respect for our employees,” a Chevron spokesperson wrote in an email to Bay Area News Group.

The protest ended around 9 a.m.

Matt Leonard, a member of Oil and Gas Action Network and Chevron Out of Palestine, criticized Wirth’s response to their protest.

“They are talking out of both sides of their mouth. They claim concern for the communities they operate in while using those atrocities as a way to profit,” Leonard said.

Leonard is part of the the global Boycott Chevron campaign, which is led by the Boycott Divestment Sanctions committee. He said the group has collectively sent 10,000 emails to the CEO, and said the CEO’s response shows that they are making an impact.

Haj, who is Lebanese, said that both wars and resource extraction play a role in militarizing many homelands and creates negative environmental effects, brutalizing the people who live there.

“The shareholders are just very calmly, very normally meeting amidst one of the greatest humanitarian crises of the 21st century with the complicity in their back pocket,” Haj said.

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