Climate protesters hold a banner reading "summer of heat on Wall Street" while cops stand behind them.

Climate activists protest outside Citigroup's headquarters in New York City on April 25, 2024.

(Photo: Alicé Nascimento/New York Communities for Change)

'Just the Beginning': 50+ Arrested for Blockading Citigroup Bank Over Climate Crimes

"Through people-powered resistance, we can give money a conscience and stop Citi's destruction of our planet," said one Indigenous campaigner.

Twenty more demonstrators were arrested Thursday, the second day of Earth Week protests targeting Citigroup's Manhattan headquarters in what organizers called "the beginning of a wave of direct actions to take place over the summer targeting big banks for creating climate chaos that is killing our communities and our planet."

Protest organizers—who include Climate Defenders, New York Communities for Change, Planet over Profit, and Stop the Money Pipeline—said 53 activists were arrested over two days of demonstrations, which included blocking the entrance to Citigroup's headquarters, to "demand that the bank stop funding fossil fuels."

Organizers said this week's demonstrations "were just the beginning" of what they're calling a "Summer of Heat" targeting big banks for their role in the climate emergency and for "polluting our land, air, and water, and threatening the health of children, families, and our planet." Citigroup is the world's second-largest fossil fuel financier.

"We're holding Citi accountable for financing dirty fossil fuels from Canada to Latin America and beyond," said Chief Na'moks of the Wet'suwet'en Nation, one of several Indigenous leaders who took part in the action. "Through people-powered resistance, we can give money a conscience and stop Citi's destruction of our planet."

Jonathan Westin, executive director of Climate Defenders, asserted that "Citigroup's racist funding of oil, coal, and gas is creating climate chaos that's devastating communities of color across the country."

"We're taking action to tell Citi that we won't put up with their environmental racism for one more day," Westin continued. "Our communities have reached the boiling point. Our children have asthma, our city's sky was orange, and our air polluted because of the climate crisis caused by Citi and Wall Street."

"We're going to keep organizing and taking direct action until Citi listens to us," he vowed.

Stop the Money Pipeline co-director Alec Connon said: "To have any chance of reigning in the climate crisis, we must stop investing in fossil fuel expansion. Yet, Citibank is pumping billions of dollars into new coal, oil, and gas projects."

"We're here to make it clear: If they're going to fund the companies disrupting our climate and our lives, we're going to disrupt their business," Connon added.

Activists have repeatedly targeted Citigroup in recent years as the megabank has pumped more than $300 billion into fossil fuel investments around the world since the Paris climate agreement.

According to the protest organizers:

Citi has provided $668 million in funding to Formosa Plastics between 2001-2021, which is trying to build a $9.4 billion plastics facility in a majority Black community in the heart of Cancer Alley in Louisiana.

Citigroup is also one of the biggest funders of state-run oil and gas companies in the Amazon basin, pumping in over $40 billion between 2016-2020, and a major backer of Petroperú, which has been involved in oil spills and Indigenous rights violations.

"From wildfires, heatwaves, and floods to deadly air pollution and mass drought, Citi's fossil fuel financing is killing us," said Alice Hu of New York Communities for Change. "We've sent polite petitions and had pleading meetings with bank representatives, but Citi refuses to stop pouring billions each year into coal, oil, and gas."

"That's why we're fighting for our lives now with the best tool we have left: mass, nonviolent disruptive civil disobedience," Hu added.

Join Us: News for people demanding a better world

Common Dreams is powered by optimists who believe in the power of informed and engaged citizens to ignite and enact change to make the world a better place.

We're hundreds of thousands strong, but every single supporter makes the difference.

Your contribution supports this bold media model—free, independent, and dedicated to reporting the facts every day. Stand with us in the fight for economic equality, social justice, human rights, and a more sustainable future. As a people-powered nonprofit news outlet, we cover the issues the corporate media never will. Join with us today!

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.