Town Hall Meeting in East Oakland Demands Environmental Justice


The East Oakland Congress of Neighborhoods holds a Town Hall meeting Aug. 29 at Allen Temple Baptist Church to  build community power to fight the toxic effects of air pollution in East Oakland.

The East Oakland Congress of Neighborhoods recently met with concerned community members at Allen Temple Baptist Church to raise awareness and build community power to fight the toxic effects of air pollution in East Oakland.

At the town hall, held Aug. 29, community members learned about local polluters, such as AB&I Foundry and the SCI Crematorium, and the health impacts of air pollution. Residents also shared their personal stories of living with these health impacts. They then took some time to discuss and propose their own solutions to ensure everyone’s right to breathe clean air.

“It was very important that we had this town hall, because the air and what is in it is not being taken as seriously as it should be,” said East Oakland resident Cesar Fragoso. “We need to understand that the air we breathe is fundamental to our survival.”

East Oakland is primarily home to Oakland’s low-income Black and Brown residents. According to the Alameda County Public Health Department, these community members suffer from double the asthma emergency room visits and hospitalizations, the highest rate of both stroke and congestive heart failure, and the lowest life expectancy in Alameda County, by as many as 10 years. Many residents are unaware that they face these elevated health risks.

Despite the known health hazards, both the City of Oakland and the county continue to allow heavy industries to operate in close proximity to homes, schools, parks, churches and communities in East Oakland, according to activists.

In January 2018, after years of legal battles, a new mega-crematorium owned by Service Corporation International (SCI) began operations only half a mile away from the residential neighborhood of Columbia Gardens, adding dangerous particulate air pollution from the burning of 3,000 bodies a year to a neighborhood already heavily burdened by air pollution from nearby I-880, according to activists.

Lifelong East Oakland resident and community organizer Esther Goolsby said, “I hope that my neighbors take all this information and spread the word across Oakland and Alameda County. We need to take care of our air.’’

For more information, contact Esther Goolsby at (510) 686-3307 or [email protected]



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