For Immediate Release: Dec. 7, 2015
Chicagoans Flood the Banks to Protest Profit from Prisons, Gentrification and Climate Change
Chicago, IL–One Hundred Chicagoans from a variety of movements joined up Monday to organize an event called ‘Flood the Banks!’, where they targeted various financial institutions that profit from prisons, home foreclosures, gentrification and climate change. Two bank branches, owned by Wells Fargo and Chase Bank in particular were disrupted by the protests.
This action comes during the COP21 Climate Talks in Paris, which organizers say are a prime example of how corporate profits are being prioritized over the well being of people. As was the case with the 20 previous talks, the negotiations are primarily being driven by political elites and multinational corporations that have no interest in solving the issue of climate change. Organizers thus called on people to work on creating communities that prioritize social good and ecological health rather than profit and capitalism.
During the first leg of the march, protesters marched to the 10 and 30 S Wacker building that houses both Chicago Mercantile Exchange offices and a Wells Fargo Bank branch. There, they called out Wells Fargo for its investments in Barnett Capital, a financial institution that is driving gentrification in Chicago’s Albany Park and Logan Square neighborhoods. Centro Autonomo, an organization currently campaigning to get Barnett Capital to cease tenant evictions in the Albany Park neighborhood delivered a letter to Wells Fargo outlining their role in the displacement of community members from their neighborhood. In addition, protesters also called out Wells Fargo’s investments in for-profit prisons and fossil fuels. Lastly, a connection was also made between tax breaks given to the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and its donations to Rahm Emanuel’s campaign for re-election, another instance of the rampant corruption at these institutions.
Protesters then marched to the Chase Bank branch on 230 W Monroe, where a group of ten went into the bank and unfurled a banner, that read “Chase Profits from Misery”, while chanting “What do we do with bad banks? We Chase them out!” and distributing fake money with skulls and crossbones to bank customers throughout the bank. After being escorted out of the bank by police, organizers with Black and Pink Chicago called them out for profiting from incarceration through a program called JPay in which prisoners are charged exorbitant fees to use their money, along with their funding of Enbridge which is building a network of new tar sands oil pipelines all over the midwest.
Event attendees and organizers called on these financial institutions to immediately cease funding irresponsible projects that cause misery. Instead, they emphasized the need for housing as a human right, prison abolition, and real solutions to the climate crisis. They stressed that an effective way to achieve this is to work together to implement deep change and build communities that work for everyone, not just the privileged and rich. “Once you start to think about the causes of these different issues, it’s easy to see how they are connected and how a tweak in the current system won’t solve the problem. We need deep, systemic change.” said Angie Viands of Rising Tide Chicago.
The action is part of Flood the System, a fall mobilization to flood, blockade, occupy and shut down the systems that jeopardize our future and was organized by 8th Day Center for Justice, Black and Pink Chicago, Centro Autónomo, Energy Action Coalition, NEXOS, Nuclear Energy Information Service, Rising Tide Chicago, We Are/Somos Logan Square