Climate change demonstration offends Camp Fire victims


Volunteers displayed 86 tombstones for 86 lives lost last year from wildfires. Photo credit: Kimberly Morales

On Thursday, Sunrise Movement Chico displayed 86 tombstones for 86 lives lost last year from what they claimed to be due to “the negligence of PG&E.”

With tombstones laid out on campus, volunteers from Sunrise Movement posed a question for PG&E: “With even more fires happening and more blackouts to come…how many more lives have to be lost before we take transformative action?”

Volunteers held signs around their cemetery “AS EMISSIONS GROW, SO DO WILDFIRES, THIS IS AN EMERGENCY, GREEN DEAL NOW.”

Sunrise Movement volunteers aimed to halt the distractions of celebrating consumerism of Halloween, acknowledging the homes and lives lost from wildfires during the past year. Photo credit: Kimberly Morales
Shoes atop of gravestones were laid out on campus to represent the lives lost in wildfires. Photo credit: Kimberly Morales

“We’re bringing awareness towards climate change and halt the distractions of celebrating consumerism when celebrating Halloween and show our respects to those who have lost their homes and especially those who lost their lives,” Laura Tranquilino — a volunteer who quit her job to join the Sunrise Movement and be a part of the community — said.

During the demonstration, Sunrise Movement promoted the new policy framework of the Chico Green New Deal, which was released earlier that day by Vice Mayor Alex Brown and Councilmember Karl Ory.

Tombstones were placed on campus to represent communities across Northern California that were harmed by wildfires in the past year. Photo credit: Kimberly Morales

While volunteers had intentions to acknowledge the looming anniversary of the CampFire, while raising awareness of climate change, survivors of the Paradise Camp Fire were shocked by the demonstration.

Some took to social media to express their frustration in comments on the Paradise Fire Adopt a Family Facebook page.

“Makes me sick. Too bad they didn’t put some positive energy into helping victims,” Cindy Dean said in a post on social media.

“As a survivor…if they didn’t want to promote “consumerism of Halloween,” yet they chose to also use the “purge,” a movie that took Halloween even further and turned it into a date anyone could commit mass murder on anyone except Government and corporate leaders,” Tannith Martin said in a comment. “I don’t understand how anyone could view this as a way to spread any sort of message.”

As much as PG&E is to blame, calling them “serial killers” was a misleading over-exaggeration, according to Heather Loughton-Houk.

While Sunrise Movement didn’t want people distracted by the “consumerism of Halloween” yet set up campus like a funhouse of doom at the expense of those that lived the worst day of their lives was “sick,” Loughton-Houk said. Had the Sunrise Movement really cared about the victims of the Camp Fire, they would have gone to the State Capital or figured out a solution to getting elderly and single parents out of tents, she said.

“There’s a right way and wrong to reach the government. This was the wrong way,” Loughton-Houck finished.

Kimberly Morales can be reached at [email protected] or @kimberlymnews on Twitter.