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Center Column Archives
On February 3, protest vigils were held across the country following the State Department’s release of the final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for the Keystone XL pipeline. The protests included thousands of demonstrators urging the president to keep his word in the fight against climate change and reject the controversial pipeline. In the Bay Area rallies were held in many cities, including Oakland, Palo Alto, and Santa Cruz.
David Hayden, a frontline activist and advocate for animal and human rights, passed away on January 31. He was the primary driving force at No Compromise magazine and an S.F. Grand Jury resister. David lived in Santa Cruz and worked at UCSC. A memorial in the Talon Conspiracy describes David's passing as, "a reminder that the best fighters are also the best people: kindhearted, soft spoken, humble, and ready to raise hell when injustice rears its ugly head."
The Center for Biological Diversity filed a formal petition on January 16 with the National Marine Fisheries Service to protect more critical habitat for the endangered Southern Resident population of orcas. If successful the proposal would extend Endangered Species Act protection to the whales’ winter foraging range off the coasts of Washington, Oregon and California. After several drastic declines, only 81 killer whales remain in the Southern Resident population.
The Obama administration’s push to modernize U.S. ports to accommodate huge new ships that can pass through the widened Panama Canal worries environmentalists who believe U.S. coastlines will be subjected to enormous damage and coastal residents will face increased health risks. For marine life already threatened by shipping traffic, like the majestic right whale, the odds are even tougher.
Lively protests took over McDonald's restaurants in the Bay Area on December 5 as part of a nationwide series of actions organized by Fast Food Forward, a joint effort by community and labor groups. Young workers in Oakland celebrated and danced as much as they protested, and a raucous rally was held in San José. The rallies demanded a $15 an hour minimum wage for fast-food workers.
On November 29, Black Friday 2013, Walmart employees, family members, and allies protested at hundreds of Walmart stores across the U.S. to demand improved working conditions, including increased wages, full-time jobs, and an end to retaliatory practices against those who stand up for workers' rights. Among other Northern California outlets of the retail giant that were targeted, demonstrations were held in San Leandro, Roseville, and Fresno/Clovis. Fifteen people in Roseville and five people in San Leandro were arrested for civil disobedience.
Friends and family from coast to coast are mourning the loss of 28-year-old Anthony Messer, who died in Santa Cruz on the evening of December 2. Anthony was well known across California as a veteran of the U.S. military, a political activist, a traveler, and a generally friendly person who exuded positivity. Funeral services were held for him on December 9 in Chipley, Florida.