Tag Archives: Martinez CA

In Martinez, Contra Costa and elsewhere – white backlash to Black Lives Matter

White backlash to Black Lives Matter was swift. It was also expected

San Francisco Chronicle, by Otis R. Taylor Jr. July 9, 2020 
Justin Gomez at the site of a Black Lives Matter mural that he and his wife, Angela helped organize and that had been defaced shortly after being completed in Martinez, Calif., on Tuesday, July 7, 2020. The couple that vandalized the Black Lives Matter mural (since restored) on Court Street on July 4th, has been charged with a hate crime each for their actions.
Justin Gomez at the site of a Black Lives Matter mural that he and his wife, Angela helped organize and that had been defaced shortly after being completed in Martinez, Calif., on Tuesday, July 7, 2020. The couple that vandalized the Black Lives Matter mural (since restored) on Court Street on July 4th, has been charged with a hate crime each for their actions. Photo: Carlos Avila Gonzalez / The Chronicle

The expected hostility toward the racial uprising energizing the country has begun.

It was expected by behaviorists and historians because history reveals that when some white people feel threatened by social justice movements, they lash out.

On July 4, the paint had barely dried on the 165-foot long Black Lives Matter mural on the street in front of the Wakefield Taylor Courthouse in Martinez when a man and a woman showed up. They dumped black paint on the yellow letters.

“This is not happening in my town,” the woman said as she spread the paint with a roller.

The hateful display of counterfeit patriotism was video-recorded by bystanders and went viral. On Tuesday, Contra Costa County District Attorney Diana Becton charged Nicole Anderson and David Nelson with a hate crime for defacing the mural.

“It was a peaceful mural, and it was a powerful way, as we’ve seen all over the country, that has been used to think about the importance of Black lives,” Becton told me. “But this one in particular was to think about the importance of Black lives in Contra Costa County.”

The county is roughly 43% white, according to census data. Black people make up less than 10% of the county’s population, while Latinos account for about 26% of county residents.

A 2018 report by UC Berkeley’s Urban Displacement Project and the California Housing Partnership studied housing prices and demographic changes in the county from 2000 to 2015 to, among other things, understand trends producing “patterns of segregation and unequal access to high-resource neighborhoods that have defined the county’s racial and economic geography for decades.”

By 2015, the report concluded, “approximately half of low-income Black and Latinx households in the county lived in segregated, high-poverty tracts — approximately triple the rate of low-income Asian and White households, and a steep increase from 2000. Families in these types of neighborhoods typically face greater barriers to economic mobility [and] are more likely to suffer adverse health outcomes.”

Once again, systemic racism impacts the health, economic and educational outcomes of people of color.

The permitted Black Lives Matter mural in Martinez was repainted almost immediately, but get this: The very next day, a man was arrested for allegedly pulling a gun on people looking at the mural, according to the Police Department.

The retaliation is driven by hate, resentment and fear. Don’t be surprised if it lasts beyond next year’s presidential inauguration.

“These are old means of subordination that white people have used,” said UC Berkeley psychology Professor Dacher Keltner, referring to recent viral incidents, including in Indiana where a Black man was attacked in the woods by white men. “This racism is the fabric of this culture.”

And when protesters rallied earlier this week to support Vauhxx Booker, the Black man who called the Indiana incident an “attempted lynching,” someone drove their car through the crowd, NBC News reported.

Wait, there’s more. A white woman used the N-word while arguing with a Black woman in a Sacramento-area convenience store on June 25. A white diner called someone enjoying a family celebration at a Carmel Valley restaurant an “Asian piece of s—.”

“Trump’s gonna f— you,” he said, rising from the table.

He already has.

The president is a grifter who knows hate is currency in America. He stokes white fear and resentment by painting Black Lives Matter protesters as terrorists and thugs. On July 1, he called Black Lives Matter murals symbols of hate. If his lies were your main source of information about people of color, you’d think the white, Black, Latino, Asian and Indigenous people marching for social justice were a bigger threat to this country than the coronavirus.

That’s why a white couple in St. Louis pointed their guns at protesters who marched past their home.

“The narrative of police brutality, the narrative of oppression, the narrative of racism — it’s a lie,” said the man in the Martinez incident, identified as Nelson, who wore a red T-shirt with “four more years” on the front. “Why don’t you guys learn about history?”

Once again, ignorance is a hallmark of white supremacy.

Here’s a brief lesson in American history: Southern white people went to war and sacrificed a generation to preserve the right to buy, sell and trade Black bodies. Then this country built statues to honor human traffickers and to remind Black people that their place — no, our lives — were conditional. After slavery was abolished, the lynchings of Black people became appointment viewing. Black people’s homes, churches and offices were bombed during the civil rights movement.

I could go on, but you get the historical context. In this country, when some white people feel their way of life — their status — is threatened, they respond with violence.

Dana Frank, a research professor of history at UC Santa Cruz, told me that some white resentment turns into anger instead of reflection.

“There’s white people that are well-meaning or confused and clueless, and then there’s the people who are actively crossing over into hostility. The second category is much harder to reach,” she said. “I think it’s very hard for your average white person to see all those forms of institutionalized racism in which they come out ahead. How do you open the door to somebody seeing that without that person feeling threatened?”

By getting white people to talk to white people about systemic racism.

Justin Gomez, who obtained the permit for the street mural, organized the effort a week after flyers calling for white unity were distributed in Martinez. Gomez, who is Filipino and was raised in Walnut Creek, has two children. He’s a stay-at-home dad, and his wife is a health care worker.

He told me he was blown away at how quickly the mural was defaced. Then again, he lives in Contra Costa County.

“We see Confederate flags,” Gomez said. “We see a lot of racist rhetoric in our local social media circles, so we fully knew that that was going to happen and we were ready for it.”

Six gallons of yellow paint were delivered to him Monday.

“We’re ready to fix it again,” he said.

UPDATE: Martinez News-Gazette publishing one print edition weekly

By Roger Straw, February 4, 2020
Announcement from p. 3 of the January 12, 2020 edition of the Martinez News-Gazette

The news is still a bit sketchy, but today I heard from Nick Sestanovich, former editor of the Benicia Herald, commenting on my story yesterday, “News of the death of Martinez News-Gazette was premature…”

Nick pointed out that the editor of the Martinez News-Gazette “was able to find another company to continue publishing the paper as a weekly.”

P. 1 of the January 12, 2020 edition of the Martinez News-Gazette

The print edition is a full color Sunday paper, and it looks great!  Here’s an online pictorial copy of the Sunday, January 12 edition.  The announcement on page 3 goes like this: “Martinez News-Gazette Continues!  PCM Publishing LLC, owner of  The Hemet & San Jacinto Chronicle along with Rick Jones, editor of the Martinez News-Gazette for the past six years announce the continuation of the Martinez News-Gazette.  In the upcoming weeks look for a new, full-color edition of the Gazette to be published weekly.  We will continue to provide the best hyper-local news coverage in Martinez.”

P. 1 of the January 19, 2020 edition of the Martinez News-Gazette

It’s something of a sleuth job to discover other online versions of the print publication.  I was able to locate the January 19 edition at martinezgazette.com/martinez-news-gazette-jan-19-2020, but subsequent editions either didn’t get posted online, or they are following some other URL protocol.

The new owner (or co-owner along with Rick Jones?) is PCM Publishing.  I’m not sure, but pcm.com might be the company in question.

HERE IN BENICIA… we are hopeful that if and when Benicia Herald owner (and former owner of the Martinez News-Gazette) David Payne realizes that his 121-year-old Benicia treasure has – for several years now – hit rock bottom, he is able to find a backer and sell, so that Benicia continues to have a local newspaper, and a more vibrant one at that.

KQED: Pipeline at Center of Altamont Pass Oil Spill Also Ruptured Last September

Repost from KQED
[Editor: A colleague reports that “The Altomont Pass pipeline brings heavy crude oil from southern San Joaquin Valley oilfields to some of our Bay Area refineries.”  – RS]

Pipeline at Center of Altamont Pass Oil Spill Also Ruptured Last September

By Ted Goldberg, May 24, 2016

California’s fire marshal has launched an investigation into an oil pipeline rupture that spilled at least 20,000 gallons of crude near Tracy over the weekend — eight months after the same pipeline had a break in a similar location.

Shell Pipeline crews are still cleaning up from the most recent spill near Interstate 580 and the border between Alameda and San Joaquin counties four days after the 24-inch diameter line broke.

Crews with the oil giant were able to complete repairs on the pipe on Monday, according to a Shell official.

The pipeline stretches from Coalinga in Fresno County to Martinez.

The rupture on the line was first reported at 3 a.m. on Friday, said Lisa Medina, an environmental specialist at the San Joaquin County Environmental Health Department.

Shell discovered a loss of pressure in the pipeline, filed a report with the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services and then shut the line down.

San Joaquin County officials believe the spill covered an area 250 feet long by 40 feet wide, Medina said in an interview.

A preliminary test of the pipeline found a split of approximately 18 to 20 inches in length, said company spokesman Ray Fisher in an email.

Fisher also confirmed that the same pipeline ruptured and caused an oil spill in the same vicinity, near West Patterson Pass Road, last Sept. 17.

Here’s a link to Shell’s report on that incident that found the rupture spilled 21,000 gallons of oil, about the same amount as Friday’s break.

Fisher said Shell inspects its pipelines every three years, and the company conducted an inspection of the line after the September incident.

He added that the line has no history of corrosion problems.

It’s unclear what caused the most recent spill.

On Tuesday, state fire officials confirmed that the Office of the State Fire Marshal had opened a probe into the pipeline rupture.

Federal regulators are not investigating the break, but are providing technical support to the state, said an official with the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.

The spill prompted concerns from environmentalists.

Sierra Club representatives pointed out that the spill near the Altamont Pass came weeks after Shell spilled about 90,000 gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico and a year after a major spill involving another company’s pipeline on the Santa Barbara County coast.

“Sadly, it’s become undeniable that oil spills will remain the status quo if we continue our dependence on dirty fuels,” said the Sierra Club’s Lena Moffitt in a statement. “This is just Shell’s latest disaster and the company has done nothing to assuage fears that it can stop its reckless actions.”

“The environmental impacts could be very serious,” Patrick Sullivan, a spokesman for the Center for Biological Diversity, said in an interview. Sullivan said the spill could hurt birds and other animals in the area and could contaminate nearby groundwater.

State water regulators, though, say they’re not concerned the spill could affect water in the area.

“Given the location and the relatively limited extent of the spill, it is highly unlikely that the spill would affect underlying  groundwater and even more unlikely that it would impact any drinking water supplies,” said Miryam Baras, a spokeswoman for the State Water Resources Control Board, in an email.

Sullivan also questioned whether Shell’s statements on the size of the oil spill were correct.

“We don’t know how much oil has been spilled,” Sullivan said. “With previous pipeline spills the initial estimates have sometimes turned out to be wrong. They’ve turned out to be under-estimates.”

Fisher, the Shell spokesman, said the company had not revised its estimates.

National Education Association (NEA) Opposes California Oil-train Project

Repost from The Center For Biological Diversity
[Editor:  Significant paragraph: “Thirteen school boards and five teachers’ unions in California have publicly opposed the Phillips 66 project, including in Ventura, Martinez and Oakland. Last month both the California Teachers Association and the California Federation of Teachers sent letters to county officials urging them to deny the project….”  See more below.  – RS]

NEA Opposes California’s Phillips 66 Oil-train Project Over Risks to Students

Dangerous Bomb Trains Would Threaten Hundreds of California Schools
For Immediate Release, July 15, 2015

WASHINGTON— Out of concern for the safety and wellbeing of students and teachers, the National Education Association today opposed the proposed Phillips 66 oil-train offloading facility in San Luis Obispo County. If approved the project would bring millions of gallons of hazardous crude oil nearly every day through highly populated areas near hundreds of schools.

With nearly 3 million members in 50 states and the District of Columbia, NEA is the nation’s largest professional employee organization and union. Its Representative Assembly voted earlier this month to send a letter urging the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors to reject the project permit.

The NEA letter notes that at least 29 schools in San Luis Obispo County alone are close enough to the planned crude-by-rail route to suffer catastrophic consequences from a train derailment or an oil spill. “Please put student safety first,” the letter urges.

“Our members are concerned for the safety, health and wellbeing of their students,” said NEA President Lily Eskelsen García. “Hundreds of schools across California are within a mile of the potential ‘blast zone’ and could suffer catastrophic consequences in the event of a train derailment or oil spill.”

The county’s planning commission is expected to vote on the project in the coming months.

Thirteen school boards and five teachers’ unions in California have publicly opposed the Phillips 66 project, including in Ventura, Martinez and Oakland. Last month both the California Teachers Association and the California Federation of Teachers sent letters to county officials urging them to deny the project, citing the high risk of train derailment and toxic diesel emissions, which are especially harmful to children.

“Our schoolchildren at these schools are in extreme risk if there is a major oil-train accident,” said Kathleen Minck, 30-year elementary school teacher and member of the Lucia Mar Unified Teachers Association, which sent a letter of opposition to the project last month. “Also, increasing air pollution from the trains will affect all our children with asthma, even in the absence of a major accident.”

Nearly 20 local governments along the rail route affected by the Santa Maria Phillips 66 project have also submitted letters or passed resolutions against the project, including San Jose, Berkeley, Davis and Ventura County. More than 23,000 people from across California have also voiced opposition to the project.

“Teachers across America want San Luis Obispo’s dangerous oil-train project stopped in its tracks,” said Valerie Love with the Center for Biological Diversity. “County officials must understand that approving this facility would endanger hundreds of thousands of schoolchildren across California and beyond. It’s critical not to put schools and communities in the path of these explosive bomb trains.”

Background
The nearly 3 million-member NEA is the largest professional employee organization and labor union in the country — representing public school teachers and other support personnel, faculty and staffers, retired educators, and college students preparing to become teachers — with affiliate organizations representing 14,000 school communities in every state and the District of Columbia as well as educators working on military bases in the United States and abroad.

In 2015 there have already been five major fiery oil-train derailments, including in West Virginia, Illinois and Ontario. In May the U.S. Department of Transportation released new rail tank car regulations, which will take 10 years to be phased in — and which still leave the public at severe risk from oil trains.

Shipments of crude oil by rail have increased by 4,000 percent since 2008. More oil was spilled in train accidents in 2013 than in the previous 38 years combined, and in 2014 there were more oil train accidents than in any other year on record.