In Seattle yesterday (May 8), activists occupied 13 JPMorgan Chase branches around the city to demand that the bank stop lending money to TransCanada, the company behind the Keystone XL Pipeline. Police arrested 26 people.
— Matt Remle (@wakiyan7) May 9, 2017
The Seattle Times reports that the local chapter of the international climate organization 350 organized the action with Native American activists who participated in actions against the Dakota Access Pipeline. Chants included: “Chase bank is toxic, don’t fund the KXL!” and “Every city, every block, we honor Standing Rock! Drop Chase bank and move your stock. We honor Standing Rock!” Reuters reports that two arrestees chained their necks to the front door of a branch.
“I have a personal responsibility to make sure we have a livable climate," a protester who would only identify herself as 21-year-old Andrea from Olympia, Washington, told Reuters.
— Alex Garland (@AGarlandPhoto) May 8, 2017
The actions took on different tones at various branches around the city. At the downtown branch on Second Avenue, for example, The Times reports that Native American leaders performed a round dance: “The bank became an impromptu longhouse of sorts as Native American leaders told stories and shared teaching, prayers and songs for demonstrators and their allies.” Meanwhile, farther north in the Fremont neighborhood, organizers held a “karaoke dance party” inside a branch.
Yesterday’s actions come two weeks after 350 Seattle sent the financial company a letter demanding that it stop funding the “extraction and transport of Canadian tar sands,” which is the fossil fuel that the Keystone XL Pipeline would transport from Alberta, Canada, to U.S. markets. From the letter, which was addressed to JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon:
We know that loaning to such projects is normal business practice. We also know that if we continue with currently normal business practice, we are in the last decade or two of a reasonably stable planet. This is not a controversial truth.
In that same letter, 350 Seattle warned the company about the direct actions. Seattle environmental activists have already succeeded in building city support to divest from banks that fund other energy projects. In February, the city council voted to stop doing business with Wells Fargo, one of the banks funding the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline.
“All you other banks in Seattle, you are next,” Ray Kingfisher, a Northern Cheyenne tribal elder who helped lead the action at Chase’s Second Avenue branch, told the Times. “This is just a start.”
To see photos and videos from the actions, follow #ShutDownChase on Twitter.