Green Party Mayor Welcomes Occupy Protests To Her City

By Joe Garofoli, San Francisco Chronicle

At least one Bay Area mayor is actually welcoming the Occupy Wall Street movement to her city: Richmond Mayor Gayle McLaughlin.

That’s good news because there will be an Occupy Wall Street speak out at 11 a.m. Friday near McLaughlin’s Civic Center Plaza office. People are invited to tell their stories of how they’ve lost their job, their home, can’t pay their student loans, can’t find a job, etc.

And McLaughlin will be there. As she wrote in a letter that’s been posted on the Occupy Richmond Facebook page: “The Occupy Wall Street movement has burst onto the scene, calling for an end to corporate domination all over the globe. We, in Richmond, are part of this movement and have everything to gain from it.”

But what if, we asked McLaughlin, the folks speaking out Friday decide to stay and camp a while there? She replied: “Yeah, I would stand with them for that. I stand with this movement.”

She marched in the Nov. 2 general strike in Oakland for a bit. Asked what she thought of how Oakland Mayor Jean Quan has handled the Occupy Oakland occupation, McLaughlin said: “Elected officials need to state clearly and consistently where they stand. Or else they get caught in the crossroads.”

It will be interesting to see how large of a crowd Richmond draws Friday. If the Occupy movement is serious about expanding, it’s a short BART ride from Occupy Oakland to the Richmond speak-out. Wonder how many reinforcements from Oakland and SF will show up in Richmond in solidarity.

Back to Richmond, McLaughlin’s letter explained why there will be no shortage of stories Friday about how the current income inequality gap has hurt her city:

“We are a city that has an ever-growing disproportionate number of our residents living at or below the poverty level, while at the same time, we have a multi-billion dollar oil corporation operating their refinery in our backyard. Chevron recently doubled its quarterly profits and is brazen enough to simultaneously be seeking a property tax refund of approximately 100 million dollars from Richmond and Contra Costa County, which would leave our city and county in desparate straits. This is a reflection of an obscene economic inequity that threatens to get far worse.”