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Seattle WA: #DivestfromICE Protesters Shut Down Bank of the West

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Originally posted on It’s Going Down

EDIT: Since the July 11th demonstration and following similar demonstrations in Portland, Oregon, Bank of the West’s parent company, BNP Paribas has announced its intention to divest from GEO Group! This is the latest victory in a wave of divestments resulting from grassroots pressure.

 

On July 11th, over 30 people picketed outside the downtown Seattle branch of Bank of the West, demanding the bank cut ties with ICE. Protesters attempted to enter the bank branch but were barred by Seattle Police Department (SPD) officers utilizing bicycles as barricades. Shortly after, bank management informed SPD officers that the bank branch had locked its doors. The picket continued for an hour as protesters shouted chants, distributed leaflets to passers-by and continued to block the bank entrance. At 5PM participants in the bank shutdown marched to the Close the Concentration Camps rally at Westlake Center organized by El Comite and May 1st Action Coalition.

Bank of the West is a subsidiary of BNP Paribas, a large bank that provides funding to GEO Group, a private prison corporation contracted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to detain migrants. GEO Group operates the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, long a site of resistance and migrant solidarity, both inside and outside its walls. According to recent financial records, Bank of the West’s parent company, BNP Paribas, is listed as GEO Group’s “administrative agent” and is one of its leading lenders. Following activist pressure in March 2019, JPMorgan Chase announced that it would cease further financing of the industry. Wells Fargo, US Bank, Bank of America, and SunTrust have also recently pulled back. Without this access to capital, the future for CoreCivic (another large ICE prison contractor) and GEO Group is in jeopardy.

The bank protest was co-hosted by Olympia Assembly, El Comite and May 1st Action Coalition and was organized in conjunction with the July 8th-12 Week of Action to Shut Down ICE Profiteers.

The week of action encouraged concentrated disruptive protest be directed against financial firms invested in ICE prison contractors, GEO Group and CoreCivic. In a number of cities, the call was heeded with shutdowns at Bank of the West and PNC Bank branches, but also with protests at the offices of ICE-tech collaborators, like Microsoft and Amazon.

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#ShutDownICEProfiteers: PNC and Bank of the West Phone Zaps

A collaboration between OccupyICEPDX, Olympia Assembly and the Block the Wall Network

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1. Phone-Zap: July 11th-12th Tell PNC Bank to #DivestfromICE

Originally posted on It’s Going Down

Join us in a call-in campaign against PNC Bank as part of a week of action against the leading financiers of migrant detention. These financial institutions provide funding for ICE’s private prison collaborators, Geo Group and CoreCivic. This action provides nationwide support to the branch shutdowns and protests at PNC and other bank locations.

Call:

Pittsburgh (412) 762-2021

Chicago (773) 481-4000

Charleston (843) 958-1400

Or to find a different branch to call, click HERE

Phone Script:

“Hello PNC, I am calling in support of a week of action against the financial backers of migrant detention and deportation. We demand your bank divest from private prison profiteers such as Geo Group and CoreCivic. These companies make millions of dollars breaking up migrant families whose only crime is seeking safety. These prison companies have notorious human rights track records, from guard abuse to negligent medical care. Institutions like Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, and Wells Fargo and SunTrust have already begun to divest in the face of public pressure, and we urge you to do the same.”

2. Bank of the West Phone Zap

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July 8th-12th Week of Action: Shut Down I.C.E. Profiteers!

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Originally posted on It’s Going Down

Inspired by recent #BlockTheWall actions, people are calling for a week of action against the largest financial backers of migrant detention and deportation.

Call to Action: From July 8th-12th take collective and direct action to protest or shut down branch locations of PNC Bank and Bank of the West.

NOTE: Bank of America and SunTrust were originally listed as targets in this call to action. Recently, Bank of America and SunTrust announced their intention to divest from private prisons, including corporations that operate migrant detention centers. Bank of America and SunTrust were some of the largest banks invested in these entities. Thus, the private prison divestment and Abolish ICE movements have secured an impressive victory. We hope these wins further the momentum against PNC, Bank of the West and other ICE profiteers.  

We are all too aware of the cruelties of the American border regime: locking children in cages or ruining families by kidnapping and deporting parents. While this is a nightmare scenario for millions, it is big business for deportation and migrant-detention profiteers.

As throughout the Trump presidency, the far-Right has played a support role to the State, acting as an auxiliary force along the border in support of the border patrol.

LIKE OTHER MECHANISMS OF OPPRESSION, THE BORDER SYSTEM UTILIZES INFRASTRUCTURES THAT CAN BE DISRUPTED.

Like other mechanisms of oppression, the border system utilizes infrastructures that can be disrupted. This infrastructure is composed of state agencies, such as Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP). But it is also thoroughly integrated with the private sector. Contracts with construction, technology and security corporations are integral to the function of a militarized border. The majority of immigrant detainees are imprisoned in detention centers operated by private prison companies contracting with ICE. The largest of these are Geo Group and CoreCivic.

Children in detention facilities report rampant sexual abuse and harassment.

GEO GROUP & CORECIVIC  ARE STRUCTURED AS REAL ESTATE INVESTMENT TRUSTS, & ARE PARTICULARLY VULNERABLE TO CREDIT LOSS. THIS HAS ENABLED RECENT CAMPAIGNS TO YIELD KEY VICTORIES.

Further, the private sector actors fundamental to ICE and CBP operations rely on debt-financing from large financial institutions. Geo Group and CoreCivic which are structured as Real Estate Investment Trusts, are particularly vulnerable to credit loss. This has enabled recent campaigns to yield key victories. In March 2019, JPMorgan Chase committed to halt further financing to the private prison industry following long-term organizing efforts. In the immediate aftermath, Geo Group and CoreCivic stocks plummeted and Geo Group warned its investors that mounting pressure “could have a material adverse effect on our business.” After Chase’s announcement Wells Fargo began partially divesting, while U.S. Bank reduced credit to an “immaterial amount.” Bank of the West (a subsidiary of BNP Paribas) and PNC Bank continue to bankroll the migrant detention industry and are some of its largest funders. Divestment from these remaining large banks could jeopardize the economic viability of corporations like Geo Group or CoreCivic.

The Why’s and How’s of Bank Shutdowns and Protests

Concentrating protest on a narrow pool of targets permits a greater tangible effect on company bottomlines, illuminating the power of direct action. The JPMorgan Chase divestment campaign, in particular, utilized direct action.

Shutting down bank locations for a few hours or a day is usually quite easy. Bank locations are bound by stringent safety procedures. Thus, pickets outside of bank entrances or demonstrators entering banks, chanting, making noise and distributing leaflets to customers and workers is generally sufficient to a temporary bank branch closure. Often, bank shutdowns only comprise of a couple dozen participants, or less (though the more the merrier).

Bank shutdowns and protests can be planned in a public or private fashion. Public outreach via social media and mass fliering can guarantee heightened attendance, but can tip off bank branch management and police in advance. It is likely in this scenario that the bank branch will close its doors before the demonstration occurs. This can make for a less sexy action, but a closed bank is still a closed bank and this approach shouldn’t be written off. Alternatively, bank shutdowns can be organized more privately, through word-of-mouth, text chats and other platforms off of public social media. This method will permit a greater element of surprise, likely allowing participants to enter a bank lobby, temporarily shut down the location and potentially disperse before police arrive.

If mobilizing sufficient numbers for a shutdown or picket is difficult in your community, consider organizing a banner drop or a phone zap against a bank branch. Actions like these are less risky and resource-intensive and can complement actions in other communities.

Get to it and see you in the lobbies!

En espanol
Inspirado por las llamadas recientes de #BlockTheWall, estamos proponiendo una semana de acción contra los financieros de la detención de los inmigrantes y de las deportaciones.

La semana 8-12 de Julio, tomen acciones directos y colectivos para interrumpir locales de PNC Bank y Bank of the West.

NOTA: Originalmente, Bank of America y SunTrust eran el foco de nuestra llamada de acción. Ultimamente, Bank of America y SunTrust anunciaron su intención de parar de financiar los centros de detención privados, incluyendo las corporaciones que operan los centros de detención de inmigrantes. Bank of America fue el banco mas grande invertido en estas cárceles. Entonces, el movimiento de parar los financieros de las cárceles privadas y el movimiento Chinga La Migra han conseguido una impresionante victoria. Esperamos que esta victoria sigue avanzando el movimiento contra PNC, Bank of the West y otros financieros de La Migra.

Ya somos conscientes de las crueldades de La Sistema de La Migra de los Estados Unidos: poniendo niños en jaulas, destruyendo familias con secuestros de niños y deportaciones de padres. Esta es una pesadilla horrible para millones de gente, pero es mas lucrativo para los empresarios quien ganan de este sufrimiento.
Como otros sistemas de opresión, La Sistema de La Migra utiliza infraestructura que puede ser interrumpidos. La infraestructura es organizada por agencias del Estado como Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) y Customs and Border Patrol (CBP). Pero todo el sistema esta muy integrado con el sector privado. Contratos con negocios de construcción, tecnología y de seguridad son integrales para la función de una frontera militarizada. La mayoría de los detenidos inmigrantes están encarcelados en centros de detención operados por compañías privadas contratados con ICE, las mas grandes siendo Geo Group y CoreCivic.
Además, estas compañías privadas son fundamentales para las operaciones de La Migra que requieren instituciones finánciales grandes para sacar préstamos y crédito. Geo Group y CoreCivic, las corporaciones de detención, están muy vulnerables a la perdida del crédito. Por esta razón, campañas de activistas han tenido éxito mucha últimamente. En Marzo de 2019, JP Morgan Chase anunciaron que ya no iban a financiar la industria de detención privado. Eso fue después de una campaña organizado sobre este tema. Inmediatamente después las ganancias de Geo Group y CoreCivic se bajaron. Geo Group les mandaron un anuncio a sus inversores diciendo que el crecimiento de la presión activista “podría tener un efecto adverso material en nuestro negocio.” Después del anuncio de Chase Bank, Wells Fargo bajo sus inversiones poco a poco. U.S. Bank bajaron su total de crédito a una “cantidad inmaterial.” Pero PNC Bank y Bank of the West siguen financiando la detención privado de los inmigrantes.
¿Porqué y Cómo?
Enfocando nuestras acciones disruptivas contra elementos específicos de la oposición nos permitan medir el impacto contra las ganancias de la corporación. Con éxito, se puede iluminar que puede pasar con la acción directa. La campaña especifica contra JP Morgan Chase utilizó la acción directa.
Forzando los bancos a cerrar sus locaciones, aunque nada mas por unas horas o un día es más fácil que uno le pensaría. Las localizaciones de los bancos tienen procedimientos y reglas bien estrictos de la seguridad. Por esta razón, protestas afuera de las puertas o participantes entrando los bancos, explicando por que estamos, haciendo ruido y distribuyendo propaganda a los clientes y los trabajadores es normalmente suficiente para cerrar un banco temporalmente. Muchas veces, cerrando localizaciones de los bancos ni requiere una gran cantidad de gente (pero mas personas mejor).
Interrumpiendo y cerrando los bancos temporalmente pueden ser planeado en una manera pública o mas privada. Haciéndola en público utilizando las redes sociales y con propaganda puede atraer mas gente a participar en la causa, pero se puede llamar a la atención de los gerentes del banco y de la policía. Si eso pasa, es probable que el banco cerraría antes de la acción. Esta situación todavía significaría una victoria porque un banco cerrado es un banco cerrado. También se puede organizar estas acciones en privado, entre compañerxs hablando en persona o texteando, no usando las redes sociales. Esta forma de organizar normalmente garantiza el elemento de sorpresa, dejando los manifestantes libres a entrar el banco, forzándolo a cerrar y escaparse antes de la llegada de la policía.
¡Hágamozlo y nos vemos en los bancos!

Social Media Images

Share these graphics on social media:

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En ESPANOL:

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Fliers and Leaflets

If a public action is planned in your community, edit these fliers with local action details In ENGLISH  and En ESPANOL
Distribute these informational leaflets In ENGLISH and En ESPANOL or create your own for actions.

Actions:

Email info [at]  itsgoingdown [dot] org to have your event listed.

Endorsements:

  • Olympia Assembly
  • Block the Wall Network
  • ItsGoingDown.Org
  • NorCal Resist
  • Olympia Solidarity Network
  • Demand Utopia
  • Just Housing
  • Economics for Everyone – Olympia

Bank Branch Locators

If you need to find a bank branch near you, check out these locator maps:

PNC Branches

Bank of the West

 


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Social Ecology – July Reading Group

Sunday, July 14, 2019, 2 PM – 4 PM @ Burial Grounds Coffee 211 5th Ave SE, Olympia

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This month we’ll be reading and discussing the Emily McGuire’s Social Ecology pamphlet.

This illustrated pamphlet is a fun an accessible introduction to social ecology: a theory developed by Murray Bookchin as an appeal for social reconstruction along ecological lines.

Join us for a reading a discussion of social ecology –– whether you’ve done the reading or not.

Reading group texts do not necessarily represent Olympia Assembly, we read them for critical engagement and discussion.

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Urban Planning and Capitalism –– June Reading Group

Sunday, June 9, 2019, 2 PM – 4 PM @ Burial Grounds Coffee 211 5th Ave SE, Olympia

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This week we’ll be reading and discussing the essay What is urban planning’s role in the maintenance of capitalism? by Samuel Stein. Also check out this supplemental interview with the author.

In his new book Capital City, Sam Stein describes how one of the tasks of urban planners is to make capitalist development appear to be in the rational best interests of workers and bosses alike. This excerpt explores the coercive role of planners who are part of a system that asks them to sort out who will go where, under what conditions and for whose benefit.

Join us for a reading a discussion of urban planning and it’s role in maintaining capitalism –– whether you’ve done the reading or not.

Reading group texts do not necessarily represent Olympia Assembly, we read them for critical engagement and discussion.

 

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To stop gentrification, support homeless rights

In the past two months, the City of Olympia has conducted sweeps of most of downtown Olympia’s homeless encampments. Some dislocated residents moved to the city-sanctioned camp but many were forced to the peripheries of downtown or other parts of Olympia, far from vital services and resources. Immediately following the eviction of the Smart Lot camp, Olympia Police Dept. officers have reportedly intensified efforts to intimidate and harass homeless people on sidewalks in an apparent attempt to expel them from downtown.

These aggressive anti-homeless practices create the conditions in which gentrification can proceed. In an era of real estate sector dominance, city governments everywhere (Olympia included) are compelled to stimulate gentrification to ensure economic stability and secure sources of municipal revenue, displacing working-class people in the process. Removing homeless people and policing the behaviors they exhibit in public spaces makes urban cores more attractive to high-end real estate and commercial investors, precipitating the rental and price increases that characterize gentrification.

Millions of Americans (including many Olympians) are a mere one or two paychecks away from experiencing homelessness and millions more are at risk of displacement if gentrification continues unabated. Whether homeowner, renter or unhoused, to guarantee a livable Olympia for all, a city for ordinary people and not a playground for the rich, we must extend solidarity and support to our homeless neighbors who are time and again gentrification’s first victims.