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Activists demand PG&E be held responsible for Camp Fire

Bay Area activists and environmental groups gathered Tuesday in San Francisco to demand that PG&E be held responsible for its role in the deadly Camp Fire in Butte County last month.

People from groups like the Local Clean Energy Alliance and the Democratic Socialists of America marched from Embarcadero Plaza to PG&E headquarters. As they marched down Market Street, protesters chanted, carrying signs and held a red banner that read “No PG&E Bailout.”

The utility has recently been under scrutiny for possible negligence that may have led to the deadly fire that started in Butte County on Nov. 8 and other recent wildfires in the state.

On Nov. 26, U.S. District Judge William Alsup ordered PG&E and federal prosecutors to provide a statement on the role, if any, that PG&E played in the wildfires by Dec. 31.

Most recently, Alsup asked California Attorney General Xavier Becerra last week to advise him on the possible connection between any reckless operation by PG&E and the wildfires.

Claire Haas, a local activist, said to the crowd:

“We the people of California are going to take over PG&E.”

After making their way into the lobby, Haas began to read the names of the 88 people who died in the Camp Fire as well as victims of last year’s fires in Napa and Sonoma counties. After each name was called, the crowd yelled out “Presente,” meaning “present” in Spanish.

Jessica Tovar of the Local Clean Energy Alliance said the protesters and others are tired of PG&E’s actions and monopoly of the area’s energy systems.

Tovar said:

“We don’t want to bail out PG&E … We want to take over our energy system and make it accountable to the people.”

At the rally, the crowd of about 25 protesters stood in the lobby of the PG&E building for about two hours before San Francisco police escorted them off the premises.

PG&E officials said they are working on assessing infrastructure, safely restoring power where possible, helping in the recovery and rebuilding process, and helping protect all of their customers from “the ever-increasing threat of wildfires.”

The utility said in a statement:

“The families impacted by the Camp Fire are our customers, our neighbors, and our friends, and our hearts go out to those who have lost so much.”

After the rally at PG&E headquarters, the crowd marched to the Federal Building to join a rally to demand that House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi back the Select Committee on a Green New Deal to reduce greenhouse gases and address the effects of climate change.

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