OAKLAND (KPIX) – When the Grand Princess arrived at port in West Oakland it brought more than just Covid-19. It also brought fear to people in the community.
People in West Oakland feel they’ve been the recipients of a lot of the pollution from the port anyway, so when a ship comes in with a deadly virus on it, there’s bound to be some suspicion.
“I don’t like that the ship is there because we’ll get the virus,” said West Oakland resident Mimi Millet. “They don’t care about the bottom so much with us in here. They don’t care what happens.”
That’s a fairly common sentiment in West Oakland. The people living in those working class neighborhoods feel forgotten in the Bay Area’s so-called booming economy. So, when you couple that with the uncertainty of what’s on board the Grand Princess, it’s having a predictable reaction.
“Honestly, everybody is kind of acting like we’re in some zombie apocalypse or something,” said West Oaklander Nikia Durgin.
Ms. Margaret Gordon is trying to be a calming voice in the neighborhood. She co-founded the West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project and has been fighting for 20 years to reduce pollution coming from diesel trucks idling at the port.
And while Gordon actually sees the logic in having the Grand Princess dock there in West Oakland, she also understands the skepticism of her neighbors.
“West Oakland is the urban toxic soup, on multiple levels, of pollution in the Bay Area,” she said. “We have a variety of things that need to be cleaned up. But with this virus coming about, it just adds on to people’s fears.”
Ms. Gordon says she’s actually more afraid of the emissions, if the ship causes trucks to be backed up. But resident Courtleon Brown is staying pretty chill about the whole thing. He thinks it makes more sense for the ship to be in Oakland than in San Francisco.
“It’ll probably be more safe, you know, more isolated,” Brown said. “It’s not like they’re going to be out here walking the streets, you know? They’re not going to have any public access. Nobody’s going to talk to them.”
But when it comes to Mimi Millet, there’s simply no changing her mind that, with the cruise ship there, Oakland is getting dumped on once again.
“Oakland does get dumped on a lot because they don’t care about Oakland,” she said. “They don’t want it coming to San Francisco. We don’t want it coming to Oakland.”
No one knows how long the ship will remain at the Port of Oakland, which for the folks who live here, only adds to the uncertainty and fear.