Portland Votes to Divest from All Corporations

By Yessenia Funes Apr 07, 2017

Portland City Council passed an amendment Wednesday (April 5) with a unanimous vote to end new investments in corporate securities in stocks and private bonds, including the Dakota Access Pipeline, President Donald Trump’s proposed border wall, corporations complicit in prisons and the occupation of Palestine.

For years, Portland residents have been pressuring the city council to take its investments from corporations that didn’t meet these standards. Wells Fargo has been a target since at least 2011 when it faced controversy over its funding of private prison company Geo Group Inc. The pressure started growing in December when opponents to the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline again targeted the bank over its involvement in the $3.8 billion project.

Local media outlets reported that the hearing included hours of testimony from the public, many of whom didn’t want their dollars supporting such issues. In order not to debate which corporations to choose, the city decided to end investments in all corporations.

City investments add up to more than $1.7 billion, with a third invested in corporate securities. Its returns could drop by $3 million to $5 million as the city moves its investments into federal bonds and non-corporate options.

This move marks the end of the city’s Socially Responsible Investments Committee, a citizen committee that was considering how its investments would better serve its constituents based on human rights and other criteria.

“This is a win,” said Hyung Nam, a member of the committee, to The Oregonian. “The city is actually willing to lose money to their budget because they want to get out of these big corporate nightmares.”

(H/t The Portland Tribune, The Oregonian, Oregon Public Broadcasting)