6 arrested as hundreds participate in shutting down 3 Seattle banks for the day as part of #DivestTheGlobe
SEATTLE, WA - October 24, 2017 (Investorideas.com Newswire) Yesterday, October 23, representatives from 92 multinational banks gathered for the annual meeting of the Equator Principles Association (EPA) in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Here in Seattle, hundreds of activists fanned out across the city in an action called 100 Banks, 1 Day—part of an indigenous-led global protest known as Divest the Globe, which is witnessing actions in over 40 cities across the US and Canada, as well as actions in Africa, Europe and Asia.
Activists in Seattle disrupted business at all 103 of the city's branches of the banks that fund tar sands pipelines. Tar sands extraction is widely opposed by indigenous communities, and is extraordinarily carbon-intensive. At most sites, the disruption was minor, with staged readings of a letter to the bank CEO's indicating a broad boycott if they don't cease funding catastrophic projects.
Mazaska Talks is urging banks to follow the example of BNP Paribas, the second largest bank in Europe, which last week promised to cease all funding of companies whose primary business is tar sands, fracking, or Arctic drilling.
"Making the transition from fossil fuels to green power is no longer a matter of financial capital, but of political will. These banks have learned nothing from Standing Rock or the Great Recession, so it's up to us to make our own public banks and finance our own communities," said Jackie Fielder, an organizer with Mazaska Talks.
Saying that business as usual is devastating our chances for a stable planet, activists shut down three downtown financial centers using escalated action: the Seattle headquarters for Chase, Wells Fargo, and Bank of America.
"People may ask, why would you want to be arrested?" said Margo Polley, a City of Seattle employee. "We are in a climate crisis. We have only a few years to make huge changes to avert the worst. Getting arrested intentionally in a nonviolent direct action is one way to show the moral urgency of the situation."
The ongoing global protests seek to draw attention to the failure of the Equator Principles to uphold indigenous rights to Free, Prior, and Informed Consent in the case of the Dakota Access Pipeline and other fossil fuel projects around the world.
Many of the world's largest environmental organizations also lined up in support of the days of action, with environmental leaders adding their voices to a letter that threatens the banks with the pressure of a boycott until they cease funding tar sands projects. Almost 100 faith leaders are also supporting the action.
"Anyone with a brain, not to mention a conscience, should put their money in a bank that actually thinks the planet has a future, instead of one that scrambles for the shortest of short term gains at any cost," says Bill McKibben, Founder of 350.org.
"We can't be quiet when the earth is burning," said Valerie Costa of 350 Seattle, who was chained to the bottom of a tripod in front of Bank of America. "Or when indigenous rights are being trampled. These banks are funding devastating fossil fuel projects and we will do all we can to stop them.
"Big oil, multinational corporations and their financial backers are not persuaded by moral and environmental arguments. Nor do they even care for following the rule of law, as we have witnessed violation after violation of Tribal Nations' treaty rights. They're capitalist and they are persuaded by one thing, money. So Indigenous Nations and their allies are rising up to create a future with clean water and respect for human rights," Matt Remle, co-Founder of Mazaska Talks
"Wells Fargo and other big banks that finance dirty fossil fuel projects should take notice: this movement isn't going anywhere," said Sierra Club Beyond Dirty Fuels campaign director Kelly Martin. "Communities across the country are calling on their local governments and institutions to divest from banks that support fossil fuels, and thousands of people have already committed to moving their own money out of these banks. We will not back down until banks commit to investing in a future that benefits our communities, our economies, and our health."
"Responsible banks don't put their money into projects that bulldoze Indigenous rights, jeopardize clean water, threaten wildlife and destabilize our climate. As the world's biggest banks meet to discuss Indigenous rights in Brazil, we're standing with Mazaska Talks and Indigenous leaders everywhere who are resisting destructive fossil fuel projects. Contested oil pipelines pose too many risks and face too many hurdles to succeed long-term. Already, some of the world's biggest banks such as BNP Paribas, ING, and US Bank are stepping away from these projects. It's time for the rest of the financial sector to follow suit," Alex Speers-Roesch, Finance campaigner, Greenpeace Canada
"Major fossil fuel infrastructure projects like the Teck Resources Frontier Mine, KXL, Kinder Morgan and Line 3 pipelines require outside funding to be completed, giving banks an outsized role in shaping our collective climate future," said Ruth Breech with Rainforest Action Network. "For too long financial institutions have escaped accountability for the real world consequences of their investments, the time for that impunity has come to an end."
"Ever since the City of Seattle broke ties with Wells Fargo, it's been crystal clear that the banks stand to lose billions of dollars because of their funding of projects that both abuse the rights of Indigenous communities and are a disaster for our climate," said 350 Seattle organizer Alec Connon
"Holding big banks accountable by closing accounts is addressing a root cause of outdated and dangerous fossil fuel infrastructure development and egregious human rights violations," said Vanessa Green, Director of DivestInvest Individual. "People, public institutions and private businesses all moving money means real impact on banks and the broader finance industry, as evidenced by updated or new standards, policies, products and services. As finance industry leaders respond, the laggards are exposed and will be the biggest losers."
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