With JPMorgan Chase's annual shareholder meeting set to take place in Texas next week, 350.org Seattle and five other environmental groups organized a demonstration to protest the bank's ongoing investment in fossil fuels, particularly tar sands.
At least five indigenous and 15 non-indigenous female protesters occupied the lobby of the Russell Investments Center in downtown Seattle—where Chase's regional leaders are based—while others shut down the street outside by erecting "tarpees" and hoisting a sign that read, "Road closed due to Chase's financing of climate disaster."
A message from atop one of the “tarpees” blocking 2nd Ave in downtown Seattle right now. Here is Aaron Brouillette, who has been sitting 14 feet up since 10A. pic.twitter.com/SpgVh9wY4n
— Alison Morrow (@AlisonMorrowK5) May 7, 2018
The occupiers' request for a meeting with Chase Pacific Northwest chairwoman Phyllis Campbell—to discuss the bank's "investments in Canadian tar sands, including the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline"—was rebuffed.
Rachel Heaton:"We believe that Phyllis Campbell is a compassionate woman. We are simply here to help educate her about the harm that JPMorganChase's [tar sands] investments are having...& to ask that she use her power, position & influence to help our communities," #ShutDownChase pic.twitter.com/dte5n9qwmd
— 350 Seattle (@350_Seattle) May 7, 2018
Multiple protesters were arrested for participating in the demonstration, according to 350.org Seattle, which tweeted: "Destroying the world in search of profit...perfectly legal. Peacefully protesting such destruction...not so much, it seems."
Now THIS is ridiculous. Arrests starting now. Destroying the world in search of profit...perfectly legal. Peacefully protesting such destruction...not so much, it seems. No matter-we'll be back. There too much at stake. #ShutDownChase pic.twitter.com/5E8Umatc2m
— 350 Seattle (@350_Seattle) May 7, 2018
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The demonstration mirrored a similar action in Iowa last month, when hundreds of progressive protesters gathered outside Wells Fargo's annual shareholder meeting to demand that the bank divest from fossil fuels, private prisons, and the gun industry.
"We're here to point out the injustices done by corporations like Chase Bank, Wells Fargo, U.S. Bank—the environmental injustices done by these corporations," Seattle protester Aaron Brouillette told King5, a local television station, on Monday. "Funding big oil companies like Kinder Morgan, extracting from Alberta tar sands oils in Canada...I don't think that's right."
350.org Seattle asserts that since President Donald Trump—with his fossil fuel-friendly agenda—took office last year, "JPMorgan Chase has quadrupled its investments in tar sands and increased its financing of coal by 2,100 percent."
"We're here to point out the injustices done by corporations like Chase Bank, Wells Fargo, U.S. Bank—the environmental injustices done by these corporations."
—protester Aaron Brouillette
"And it gets worse," the group notes on its website. "Chase is currently trying to block its own shareholders from introducing and voting on a resolution that would force it to complete a study into its tar sands investments."
Other protests against Chase's investment in fossil fuels were held at various locations across the country on Monday, and documented on social media using the hashtag #ShutDownChase.
The Dallas chapter of 350.org, the Society of Native Nations, and Rainforest Action Network have planned a rally outside the shareholder meeting next Tuesday in Plano, Texas.
"JPMorgan Chase is one of the most destructive businesses on the planet," declares a Facebook event for next week's protest. "We need to stand up and show them we won't tolerate threats to our clean water, clean air, and our human rights."