On Friday June 21st an action was held at PG&E headquarters in San Francisco. The purpose of the action was to call attention to the corruption of PG&E, an investor owned utility that puts profit over people time and time again resulting in loss of life and homes. The 21st was the day of the annual shareholders meeting.
The action was organized by the No PG&E Bail Out Coalition which consists of representatives of several groups including Local Clean Energy Alliance, System Change Not Climate Change, Idle No More, Food and Water Watch, Californians for Public Banking, DSA San Francisco, DSA East Bay and others. DSA was well represented at the action with several members from San Francisco, East Bay, Silicon Valley and Santa Cruz chapters. Martabel was able to get contact info from the other chapter for future collaboration.
There were several speakers addressing the issues around PG&E and it’s corporate greed strategy. Jovanka Beckles from the Richmond Progressive Alliance, Shahid Buttar a lawyer and activist currently running against Nancy Pelosi in the 12th District, Matt Jones an activist from San Bruno where a natural gas pipeline explosion in 2010 caused by PG&E neglect killed 8 people, TURN (The Utility Reform Network) and several young activists from a group called New Voices Are Rising among others. New Voices Are Rising is based in Oakland and its mission is to develop young leaders in low-income communities and communities of color in Oakland by helping young people gain the skills and experience in civic engagement required to tackle the many problems – especially environmental health problems – that disproportionately impact their communities. The young people who spoke were awesome!
A memorial for the victims of the Camp Fire in Paradise was organized by 11th Hour, a Bay Area affinity group. They got 85 pairs of shoes, painted them black, placed a small potted flower in each of the pairs and laid them out in the plaza in front of the PG&E headquarters building. The shoes represented the 85 people who were killed by the Camp Fire which was caused, once again, by PG&E’s neglect. It was a very moving representation of the damage caused by greed.
As the shareholders filed out for a break, a lawyer came over and spoke to us. He represents victims of PG&E neglect and had purchased at least one share of PG&E stock in order to attend the shareholders meeting. He told us that at least 5 shareholders stood and made statements telling the PG&E Board of Directors to listen to the protestors out front. Not much but at least it’s something. Unfortunately, 85% of PG&E shareholders are financial firms according to information provided by TURN. We all know what those firms care about.
Although this action won’t bring “immediate change” it felt important to be there and help bring attention to the greed of corporations who are controlling resources that we all need and depend on and causing considerable harm while doing so. Hopefully down the line we will all be able to “own PG&E”.
—Madeleine, DSA SC Ecosocialism Working Group