Protesters took their economic concerns to a new venue Tuesday -- the sprawling Lafayette home of a top Chevron Corp. executive.
About 30 people, many of them Richmond residents, braved the drizzly conditions to protest in front of the home of CEO John Watson, whom they criticized as an example of what they called the "corporate welfare" and undue influence of the richest Californians on the state's tax code.
"People like Watson represent the 1 percent that have destroyed opportunities for the middle class," said Andres Soto, a Richmond resident and one of the protesters.
The protest coincided with the release of a report titled "Meet California's 1%: How Wall Street banks, big corporations and the super rich are killing the recovery," which among other charges claims that the state's wealthy elite has eluded paying its fair share of taxes. The protest was organized by the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE), a nonprofit community organization.
The protesters were escorted by local police as they chanted and circled a block in an affluent Lafayette neighborhood. Several men wearing black jackets and slacks stood at the end of Watson's driveway, between the house and the protesters.
Chevron spokesman Justin Higgs released a statement late Tuesday criticizing the report and noting that Chevron is the largest payer of corporate income tax in the state.
" ... As one of California's oldest companies,
Last week, a Contra Costa County Assessment Appeals Board decision ruled against the energy giant in a multimillion dollar tax dispute. Chevron's lawyers argued that the property tax bill for the Richmond refinery was too high, but the three-person board ruled that Chevron's property was actually undervalued, and that the corporation must pay $27 million more for tax years 2007-2009.
Protesters Tuesday said the decision didn't cool their anger against Chevron. "It showed just how detached Chevron is from reality," said protester David Gesinger. "They tried to use the judicial system as a whipping stick against the city of Richmond."