On Monday Nov 5th, Rainforest Action Network (RAN), Coal River Mountain Watch, the Student Environmental Action Coalition (SEAC), Rising Tide, representatives from mountain-top removal affected communities, and 300 of our closest friends shut down a major Citibank branch with mass civil disobedience in DC for a day.
Citibank is one of the biggest funders of coal-fired power plants , which are ravaging our climate and destroying Appalachia through mountain-top removal.
Representatives from affected communities – the places that are being destroyed by mountain-top removal – came and gave moving speeches and rallied at the park across from the World Bank. Activists dressed in haz-mat suits with Citi logos that were transformed into smokestacks, dumped wheelbarrows full of coal all over the front of Citibank, taped up the doors and with “climate criminal” caution tape, while more than 300 young activists had a die-in, blocking the Citibank entrance using our bodies and mountains of coal as blockades. We chanted “Hey people! (yeah?!) Coal is over! (yeah?!) Tell Citibank to invest in wind and solar!” Before the rally began, community members from directly impacted communities in Appalachia entered the branch to dialogue with the bank’s management and employees about their employer’s policies. Then a group of students went into talk with investment bankers about what the money from their student loans are being used for.
Most of the 300+ participants had never done an action before. It was organized to be accessible, inclusive, and build a collective sense of power, while directly confronting one of the largest financial institutions on earth with civil disobedience. It was empowering, exciting, and had creative but tight messaging that was focused, with props, costumes, art, and signs of all kinds. We shut down all of Citibank, including ATMs, and there were no arrests. The action put a lot of heat on Citi in a way that is helping escalate a larger campaign against them, but was also a radicalizing moment for a lot of folks who had never even thought about that kind of activism before. The action was led and directed by people from the communities most impacted by the issue, and there were immediate ways to keep the momentum going and plug in beyond the action itself.
After the shutdown, we had a dance party and people came up and spoke to the crowd making connections between war in Iraq and oil dependency and energy at home, between the destruction ravaging Appalachia and the destruction in New Orleans after Katrina.
And it’s just an appetizer for a Day of Action that is happening a week later, where there will be over 100 actions at Citibank and Bank of America branches in over 50 cites across the country.
To join the campaign holding Citibank and Bank of America accountable for destroying our climate, planet, people’s livelihoods and communities, see www.dirtymoney.org
Click below for video, photos, links to articles and info!
Read the rest of this entry »