Big banner bedecks bridge in Bay, urges Chevron to pay

May 23, 2011

Boats cruising near Chevron’s refinery on San Francisco Bay got a friendly reminder from environmentalists that it’s once again annual meeting time for the California oil company.

Three activists rappelled off the Richmond-San Rafael bridge with a neon-green banner saying “Chevron Guilty; Clean up Amazon,” prompting a flurry of radio chatter on Monday between at least one commuter ferry and the Bay’s vessel traffic authorities.

The three, including Amazon Watch finance manager Thomas Cavanagh, braved some heavy winds on a clear, sunny morning to generate publicity ahead of Chevron’s annual shareholder meeting. All three, along with some helpers, were later arrested, a spokeswoman for the activists said.

A familiar band of protesters will blow into the meeting in nearby San Ramon on Wednesday, with a fresh gust in their sails following a February verdict in Ecuador that finds the company liable for as much as $18 billion in damages for rainforest pollution.

But the company also feels the wind’s at its back after a New York judge granted an injunction against U.S. enforcement of the verdict, ahead of a November trial to settle a racketeering case Chevron brought against the plaintiffs.

So many questions remain in the 18-year-old legal saga. Could the answer be blowing in the wind?

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