City Council set to divest $3 billion from Wells Fargo over pipeline

Roxanne White of the Yakima nation performed the "Women's Warrior Song" in front of Seattle City Hall this morning as part of the Seattle Action Coalition rally for the #DeFundDAPL movement. (Photo by Aly Brady)
Roxanne White of the Yakima nation performed the “Women’s Warrior Song” in front of Seattle City Hall this morning as part of the Seattle Action Coalition rally for the #DeFundDAPL movement. (Photo by Aly Brady)

The Seattle City Council’s Finance Committee approved a bill to divest from Wells Fargo in a unanimous vote this morning. The bank is a major investor of the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), which was revived by an executive order from President Trump last week.

A full council vote on the divestment bill is scheduled for Monday.

Update 2/7/2017 3:35 p.m.: Today the full city council voted unanimously in support of the divestment bill. 

The Socially Responsible Banking Ordinance, which was introduced by Councilmember Kshama Sawant, will pull $3 billion in city money out of Wells Fargo. The bill, CB 118883, amends city investment policies adopted in 2013.

In an article Monday, The Seattle Times reported that Wells Fargo is lending $120 million to the DAPL project. It’s part of a $2.5 billion credit agreement including 16 other banking giants like Goldman Sachs and Bank of America. The City Council bill cited both Wells Fargo’s involvement in DAPL, and the scandal last year where the bank was caught creating more than 2 million unauthorized accounts for customers.

Hundreds of demonstrators of all ages gathered in solidarity at the City Hall Plaza in a Seattle Action Coalition rally Wednesday morning.The coalition is a key player in the #DeFundDAPL movement. The rally started at 8 a.m. and lasted throughout the committee meeting. It featured a variety of speakers from grassroots organizations and native tribes.

Demonstrators of all ages gathered in the plaza brandishing handmade anti-DAPL signs. (Photo by Aly Brady)
Demonstrators of all ages gathered in the plaza brandishing handmade anti-DAPL signs. (Photo by Aly Brady)

Paul Cheyok’tenWagner of the Saanich First Nations of Vancouver Island and Millie Kennedy, who have been organizing #DeFundDAPL rallies in Seattle since August, lead this morning’s demonstration.

Speakers from organizations like 350 Seattle tied the pipeline struggle to broader issues of climate change and the burning of fossil fuels.

Councilmember Kshama Sawant, who often refers to herself as an activist first and a politician second, also spoke. In her brief speech she condemned the Trump administration and his recent executive order to complete DAPL. She also called upon the Seattle City Council to commit to their rhetoric about Seattle being an inclusive “sanctuary city.”

“We demand that they put their money where their mouth is,” Sawant said of the council before the vote.

Vice-Chairman Bardow Lewis of the Suquamish tribe spoke at the rally about the struggles in Standing Rock, where protesters have gathered for months to oppose the pipeline construction, and of the need to keep fighting.

“When something like this occurs we must never quit, never stop, never,” Lewis said.

The rally also featured various traditional songs and dances. Wagner, along with other First Nations natives, performed the “Honor Song.” Roxanne White of the Yakima nation performed the “Women’s Warrior Song,” with several other native women.

Demonstrators circled up in the plaza chanting "let us in." (Photo by Aly Brady)
Demonstrators circled the plaza chanting “let us in.” (Photo by Aly Brady)

Later, the organizers rallied the crowd to form two large circles surrounding the plaza chanting “let us in.” The shouts could be heard within the council chamber.

While the final vote is not scheduled until Monday, spirits were high at the demonstration and it appears there is wide support for the bill. Demonstrators celebrated in the plaza with a victory rally following the committee’s vote.

This post has been updated with more details on the bill.

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