A United Methodist Women group rallied for clean water and brought to light the environmental racism that comes with polluting the Willamette. As profits were being made by companies exploiting access to natural resources, people who have to rely and interact with the river were exposed to the accumulating toxins and hazardous living conditions. The majority of these people were of course communities of color and of low socioeconomic status who don’t have the means to seek resources elsewhere.
Photo by Mike DuBose, UMNS.
Portland Harbor Community Coalition demanded for accountability of polluters and support for those affected by the pollution. Pictured is Superfund Cleanup Official Rose Longoria who stressed that the Willamette is one of major sources of fish contamination of the entire Columbia basin that stretches from Oregon up to the Canadian border. The locality of the pollution is more than just the input point - its impact spreads across ecosystems. And these ecosystems are not only important to the wildlife who take shelter in them, but also many nearby groups like people in the Yakama Indian Reservation who depend on fish for their diet.
Photo by Portland Harbor Community Advisory Group.
If I wasn’t fighting for my life, I’d be fighting for the river
Roy Pascoe’s life never seemed to be separated from the river. Growing up, he worked and played along the waters of the Pacific Northwest. In A People’s View of the Portland Harbor, he tells "We lived on the river for quite a while. It had its many challenges: the river goes up and down with the weather. We had the rain to battle with, the snow; the police, the parks; our stuff being stolen. And then we found out a year or so ago that the river is completely contaminated. There’s a lot of pesticides, lead, mercury. I’ve fished out of these rivers, I’ve eaten out of these rivers. I just recently beat cancer; I don’t know that it (getting cancer) wasn’t because of that…”
Photo by Erin Goodling, Street Roots News.