Can't Breathe

Statement on the cancellation of the BVHP “We Can’t Breathe” protest caravan action for environmental justice in Bayview Hunters Point

– from the BVHP environmental justice community and allies

After much collective work – research, thinking, planning, organizing, communicating, and collaborating – to produce a community-based political action to protest the failure on the part of government to clean up contamination and corruption at the Hunters Point Shipyard and in Bayview Hunters Point generally, it is with heavy heart that the organizers have cancelled this action, due to wildfire smoke resulting in toxic air quality. The point of our action was to protect the health and safety of our communities, our allies and, our people. Therefore, we cannot in good conscience call our people to an action that would put their health at risk from breathing.

Our action was to have included a rally in the heart of the Bayview, and a caravan to City Hall, along the way passing by the Lennar “Welcome Center” at the former Hunters Point Naval Shipyard, on contaminated radioactive land where Lennar has built and wants to build more luxury housing, with the connivance of powerful players such as the San Francisco Mayor’s office, the SF Board of Supervisors, and other city, state and federal agencies such as the Navy, EPA, SFDPH, and others. Bayview Hunters Point suffers from multiple environmental assaults: the shipyard, cement plants, a rendering plant, the sewage treatment plant, illegal dumping, and more. The toxic air quality in BVHP is exacerbated by the wildfires. Whether from cops, covid, contamination, corruption, or climate catastrophe, BVHP can’t breathe.

We lay blame for the need for this action, and the need to cancel it – both, to protect the health and safety of our community – squarely on capitalism, on corporate greed, on the for-profit system that kills our people, especially but not exclusively Black, Indigenous and other People of Color, whether slowly or quickly, for the benefit of private interests: heinous hedge-funds, bankrupt banks, the murderous military, fossil fuel fools, rapacious real-estate developers, polluted politicians, and criminal corporations. These forces have demonstrated over and over that they care not a whit for the lives of our people nor for public safety – all their pretty lies notwithstanding. We, in contrast, make our stand clearly with and for the people. The criminals we confront should be clear that we will be back. We shall not rest until racial and environmental justice have been won.

To our allies, too, in communities of color, in the environmental justice movements, we say, many people worked for countless hours to create a beautiful, inspiring, unifying and powerful action. It seems to us now that there is just no way we can have that action, or produce the desired effects, in the conditions we are given. Nonetheless, we are confident our work shall bear fruit. We ask you to be alert for other opportunities to show up for racial and environ–mental justice, here and elsewhere. Listen for our call. Solidarity is sweet. Justice shall prevail.

This statement was written by Blair, member of XRSFBay, speaking for myself as one of the organizers of this action, and as a resident of the Bayview. It does not represent the official position of any organization. The cancellation of the action for Sept. 1 is official. We will hold a brief press conference at MLK Park, 3rd St. & Carroll Ave. in SF, at 11:30 a.m. Join us if you wish.

Extinction Rebellion is a 100% non-violent civil disobedience movement aimed at nothing less than radical system change. Our rebellion is fueled by our love for humanity and for all life on earth.