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Olympic Peninsula, WA: Two US Bank Shutdowns Targeting ICE Profiteers

Reportback from Olympia and Lacey, WA on recent anti-ICE divestment actions against US Bank, the bond “trustee” for CoreCivic, and a bond “underwriter” for both GEO and CoreCivic.

On August 12th, over 25 people marched to and occupied US Bank branch in downtown Olympia, followed by a group of about 15 people then repeating the action and occupying the US Bank branch in Lacey. The action, organized by a working group of Olympia Assembly, comes on the heels of recent #DivestfromICE victories and is the latest in a series of divestment direct actions across the U.S.

Protesters gathered first in Sylvester Park, Olympia and marched towards 4th Ave and Capitol Way, where they entered US Bank. Police followed closely from Sylvester and into US Bank, with about 2 or 3 stationed inside during the duration of the demonstration. They did not intervene however, and protesters were able to chant and distribute leaflets to customers, workers, and around the space unobstructed. After leaving the bank, protesters stood outside chanting and holding up signs visible to passing cars and pedestrians, then marched back to Sylvester and mobilized for a follow up demo at the Lacey branch.

About four full cars then drove to and met up in a parking lot neighboring the US Bank on Martin Way in Lacey. Upon approaching the bank, protesters then began chanting “US Bank collaborates with ICE” as they entered, holding up a banner reading “Chinga La Migra” at the front so as to be immediately visible to everyone inside. A security guard stationed outside the bank perceived the group approaching and withdrew into the bank, but did not lock the doors and protesters were able to enter and continue chanting and distributing leaflets as they occupied the branch. Three customers left while the action occurred, and two probable customers turned back from entering the bank apparently after viewing the demonstration inside.

The majority of immigrant detainees (~70%) are imprisoned in detention centers operated by private prison companies like CoreCivic and GEO Group. These companies are structured as Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs), which makes them reliant on financing from large financial institutions and vulnerable to credit loss. Divestment announcements, most recently including PNC, have caused private prison stock prices to plummet, consistent pressure on those still holding out is crucial. According to NASDAQ, Vanguard Group and BlackRock are some of GEO’s and CoreCivic’s largest institutional shareholders, owning stock totaling in the hundreds of millions of dollars between the two corporations. In addition to U.S. Bank,  HSBC is also listed as a bond “underwriter” for both GEO and CoreCivic. Bond underwriters enable the financing of migrant detention while making individual profit by purchasing bonds from the prison companies and reselling them to individual bondholders.

If you’re interested in organization divestment action in your community, a list of the remaining major shareholders/investors and local locations of individual bank branches and investment firm offices can be found here.

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Platformism & Libertarian Communism – September Reading Group

Sunday, September 1, 2019, 2 PM – 4 PM @ 115 Legion Way SE, Olympia, WAintro-2.jpg

Suggested Readings: “Platformism – an introduction” and “The Organisational Platform of the Libertarian Communists

“Platformism is a current within libertarian communism putting forward specific suggestions on the nature which anarchist organsation should take.

The origins of the Platform lie in the Russian anarchist movement’s experiences during the Russian Revolution and the resulting civil war. One group of anarchist exiles (Dielo Trouda (“Workers’ Cause”) group) came together in 1926 and published The Organisational Platform of the Libertarian Communists, since known as ‘The Platform’. They wrote the pamphlet to examine why the anarchist movement had failed to build on their successes before and during the revolution.”

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

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#ShutDownICEProfiteers Moving Forward

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PNC Bank protest in Atlanta

As the Abolish ICE movement erupts again, private prison corporations contracting with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to detain migrants are feeling the heat. GEO Group and CoreCivic, who together exert near duopolistic power over the private prison sector, have been hit hard by a wave bank divestments. In just a few weeks, from late June to mid-July some of the industry’s leading lenders, Bank of America, SunTrust, BNP Paribas (parent company of Bank of the West) and Fifth Third all announced plans to cut ties with private prisons. They join JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo, who agreed to cease further financing the companies in March 2019.

The divestments have roughly correlated with a groundswell of rebellion. Large swathes of U.S. society are recoiling in the face of the draconian xenophobia of the Trump administration, particularly after conditions detailing the mass detention of migrant children were revealed. Never Again Action and Movimiento Cosecha have revived the disruptive spirit of Occupy ICE from a year ago, launching new rounds of blockades at detention centers, ICE Field Offices and the offices of political leaders.

#ShutDownICEProfiteers was initiated with a public call for a week of action, released by Olympia Assembly and Block the Wall Network. The July 8th-12th Week of Action call urged coordinated direct action to shut down branches of banks financing migrant detention.

During the week, Bank of the West branches were shuttered on multiple occasions in Seattle and Portland, anarchists and community groups took action against PNC in NYC,  Asheville, Tampa, and Atlanta and ICE-tech collaborators Microsoft,  Amazon and Palantir all faced protests. Phone zaps were also organized against PNC and Bank of the West branches. Although much credit must be extended to longstanding divestment campaigners, the intervention of anti-authoritarians advancing an explicit direct action strategy into the movement could have been the last straw for some financial firms.

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PNC Bank branch shut down in Manhattan 

Although the movement has secured key victories recently, more work remains to be done. Other banks maintain investments in CoreCivic and GEO Group. CoreCivic and GEO also have large institutional shareholders who haven’t indicated they will relinquish their stock holdings. As leading financiers crumble under public pressure and exposure (or even the mere threat of pressure or exposure), now is the time to up the ante.

Already, #ShutDownICEProfiteers organizers have shifted attention to new financial targets. On July 26th, a rolling picket winding through downtown Seattle occupied HSBC and U.S. Bank branches and shut down the lobbies of investment firm offices, Prudential Financial, BlackRock and Barclays. In Tampa, another round of disruptions hit 3 PNC bank branches in one day. As of this writing, bank shutdowns also are planned in Olympia WA for August 12th.

If your interested in organization divestment action in your community please not the following financial information. Links with locations of banks branches and investment firm offices are listed.

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U.S. Bank lobby occupied in Seattle

Remaining Banks Invested in GEO Group and CoreCivic

According to financial data published in April 2019 (Bank of America, SunTrust and BNP have divested since), these are some of the banks continuing to issue term loans and revolving credit lines to GEO and CoreCivic or are underwriting bonds for the companies:

PNC Bank – CoreCivic.

Find PNC branches.

Barclays – GEO Group and CoreCivic (bond underwriter)

Find Barclays branches.

Citizens Bank  – CoreCivic.

Find citizens bank branches

Regions Bank – CoreCivic.

Find Regions Bank branches.

U.S. Bank – CoreCivic (bond trustee)

Find U.S. Bank branches.

Pinnacle Bank – CoreCivic

Find Pinnacle Bank branches.

A recent CBS News report compiled statements from the banks maintaining investments in the private prison industry. While many refused to comment or issued vague, meaningless statements, Pinnacle Bank was the only one to state definitively that they do not plan to exit financial relationships with GEO and CoreCivic. The report also reads: “Two additional banks told CBS MoneyWatch they have no plans to lend to the private prison industry in the future: Barclays and U.S. Bank.” While these are not formal divestment announcements, they do indicate that Barclays and U.S. Bank could be feeling the heat. (NOTE: The U.S. Bank statement is deceptive; U.S. Bank hasn’t issued loans to GEO or CoreCivic for many years, at least. However, they are the “bond trustee” for CoreCivic and have not announced intentions to exit this position. While bond trustees do not provide direct financing, they facilitate financing by assuming an important administrative role and by underwriting bonds, buying bonds from an issuer and re-selling them to individual bondholders.)

Major Institutional Shareholders of GEO and CoreCivic:

*This data was obtained through institutional holdings listings on NASDAQ and was last updated on 3/31/2019. To find exact holding values use the NASDAQ website for GEO or CoreCivic. Offices listed may or may not be accessible to the public.

Vanguard Group – CoreCivic and GEO Group

Vanguard offices.

BlackRock – CoreCivic and GEO Group

BlackRock offices.

Prudential Financial – CoreCivic and GEO Group

Prudential offices.

State Street Corp – CoreCivic and GEO Group

State Street Corp offices.

—————

Like blockades at detention centers or airports, financial streams are another artery within the deportation and detention infrastructure that can be clogged through direct action. With the divestment momentum growing, now is the time to intervene in this node. Bank shutdowns are planned in Olympia WA on August 12th, as of this writing.

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HSBC branch shut down in Seattle
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Seattle WA: Rolling Picket Shuts Down ICE Profiteers 

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Protesters in the lobby of Columbia Center, where Barclays bank rents office space

On July 26th a lively rolling picket of over 40 people marched through downtown Seattle, shutting down bank branches and occupying the lobbies of investment firm offices. HSBC, U.S. Bank, Prudential Financial, BlackRock Inc. and Barclays bank were targeted. All of these firms have financial relationships with GEO Group and CoreCivic, the primary private detention operators for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The rolling picket, co-organized by Olympia Assembly and El Comite, comes on the heels of recent #DivestfromICE victories and is the latest in a series of divestment direct actions across the U.S.

Protesters gathered in Westlake park and marched towards 6th/Union where they entered the lobby of Two Union Square, a large corporate building where both Prudential and BlackRock Inc offices are located. A security guard initially attempted to block the lobby entrance with their body leading to a brief scuffle with one protester. This distraction permitted others to enter the building lobby until the guard relented and all were able to pass unobstructed, chanting and distributing leaflets along the way. Protesters then marched across the street to occupy the bank lobby of HSBC, forcing bank staff to lock their doors to business. Immediately afterwards, the march entered Seattle’s main branch of U.S. Bank, passing out leaflets to bank staff and customers and blocking the primary entrance with a large banner.

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U.S. Bank lobby occupied at City Center location

The march proceeded to the final target, the Columbia Center, where the office of UK-based investment bank Barclays is located. Anticipating the arrival of the march, lobby personnel had locked the main entrances and protesters were met with a line of bike cops. After picketing outside the lobby entrance the group decided to attempt other entrances and were able to find access along the side of the building. Once again, people chanted loudly and leaflets were distributed in the commercial lobby, receiving intrigue and support among retail workers and bystanders. The action concluded shortly thereafter.

The majority of immigrant detainees (~70%) are imprisoned in detention centers operated by private prison companies like CoreCivic and GEO Group. These companies are structured asReal Estate Investment Trusts (REITs), which makes them reliant on financing from large financial institutions and vulnerable to credit loss. While recent divestment announcements have caused private prison stock prices to plummet, maintaining consistent pressure on these holdouts remains crucial. According to NASDAQ, Prudential Financial and BlackRock are some of GEO’s and CoreCivic’s largest institutional shareholders, owning stock totaling in the hundreds of millions of dollars between the two corporations. Other financial reports expose Barclays as a lender to GEO Group while HSBC and U.S. Bank are listed as bond “underwriters” for both GEO and CoreCivic. Bond underwriters enable the financing of migrant detention by purchasing bonds from the prison companies and reselling them to individual bondholders, securing a profit in the process. Moreover, U.S. Bank is the bond “trustee” for CoreCivic, an important administrative position.

Like blockades at detention centers or airports, financial streams are another artery within the deportation and detention infrastructure that can be clogged through direct action. With the divestment momentum growing, now is the time to intervene in this node.
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HSBC branch doors locked following a lobby occupation 
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History, Civilization and Progress – August Reading Group

Sunday, August 4, 2019, 2 PM – 4 PM @ 115 Legion Way SE, Olympia, WA

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Suggested Reading:
History, Civilization, and Progress: Outline for a Criticism of Modern Relativism by Murray Bookchin

This is one of the denser readings we’ve done, so do your best with the reading and feel free to show up and learn even if you don’t get through it!

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

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UPDATED: Strike While the Iron is Hot: #DivestfromICE Victories and the Movement Ahead 

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Manhattan PNC branch shut down by Metropolitan Anarchist Coordinating Council protest (7/10)

As the Abolish ICE movement erupts again, private prison corporations contracting with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to detain migrants are feeling the heat. GEO Group and CoreCivic, who together exert near duopolistic power over the private prison sector, have been hit hard by a wave bank divestments. In just a few weeks, some of the industry’s leading lenders, Bank of America, SunTrust, BNP Paribas (parent company of Bank of the West) and Fifth Third all announced plans to cut ties with private prisons. They join JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo, who agreed to cease further financing the companies in March 2019.

The majority of immigrant detainees (~70%) are imprisoned in detention centers operated by private prison companies like CoreCivic and GEO Group. These companies are structured as Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs), which makes them particularly reliant on financing from large financial institutions and vulnerable to credit loss. Stocks in the industry are reeling, with CoreCivic down 27% and GEO down 22% over the last month. As GEO leadership admitted in May, divestment jeopardizes the industry’s future.

The divestments have roughly correlated with a groundswell of rebellion. Large swathes of U.S. society are recoiling in the face of the draconian xenophobia of the Trump administration, particularly after conditions detailing the mass detention of migrant children were revealed. Never Again Action and Movimiento Cosecha have revived the disruptive spirit of Occupy ICE from a year ago, launching new rounds of blockades at detention centers, ICE Field Offices and the offices of political leaders.

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Bank of the West in Seattle picketed by Olympia Assembly and El Comite (7/11)

In mid-June Block the Wall Network and Olympia Assembly released a call for a week of action against ICE profiteers from July 8th-12th. Identifying private prisons as a weak link within the deportation and detention infrastructure, the call urged coordinated direct action to shut down bank branches of Bank of America, PNC Bank, SunTrust and Bank of the West. Before the week of action began, Bank of America divested, SunTrust divested on July 8th and Bank of the West followed suit on July 12th; PNC remains invested as of this writing.

During the week, Bank of the West branches were shuttered on multiple occasions in Seattle and Portland, anarchists and community groups took action against PNC in NYC,  Asheville, Tampa, and Atlanta and ICE-tech collaborators Microsoft,  Amazon and Palantir all faced protests. Phone zaps were also organized against PNC and Bank of the West branches. Although much credit must be extended to longstanding divestment campaigners, the intervention of anti-authoritarians advancing an explicit direct action strategy into the movement could have been the last straw for some financial firms.

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PNC Bank protest in Atlanta (7/11)

Widespread and targeted disruption can also likely explain the failure of Trump’s promised mass ICE raids to materialize. Here, the heroic sabotage of transportation infrastructure at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, WA by Willem Van Spronsen warrants specific mention in most immediate terms, while the movement generally can be credited with producing a hostile environment for ICE and Border Patrol agents. The true tactical diversity of Abolish ICE – from blockades, sabotage and divestment to popular education, mass marches and mutual aid – has been its greatest strength. This fluid repertoire of action has permitted participation of various form and allowed Abolish ICE to evade capture by NGOs or the Democratic Party. Divestment has been but one, though crucial, component to this movement.

Moving Forward

Although the #DivestfromICE movement has secured key victories recently, more work remains to be done. Other banks maintain investments in CoreCivic and GEO Group. CoreCivic and GEO also have large institutional shareholders who haven’t indicated they will relinquish their stock holdings. As leading financiers crumble under public pressure and exposure (or even the mere threat of pressure or exposure), now is the time to up the ante.

Find a target near you and plan an action!

Remaining Banks Invested in GEO Group and CoreCivic

According to financial data published in April 2019 (Bank of America, SunTrust and BNP have divested since), these are some of the banks continuing to issue term loans and revolving credit lines to GEO and CoreCivic or are underwriting bonds for the companies:

PNC Bank – CoreCivic.

Find PNC branches.

Barclays – GEO Group and CoreCivic (bond underwriter)

Find Barclays branches.

Citizens Bank  – CoreCivic.

Find citizens bank branches

Regions Bank – CoreCivic.

Find Regions Bank branches.

U.S. Bank – CoreCivic (bond trustee)

Find U.S. Bank branches.

Pinnacle Bank – 

Find Pinnacle Bank branches.

A recent CBS News report compiled statements from the banks maintaining investments in the private prison industry. While many refused to comment or issued vague, meaningless statements, Pinnacle Bank was the only one to state definitively that they do not plan to exit financial relationships with GEO and CoreCivic. The report also reads: “Two additional banks told CBS MoneyWatch they have no plans to lend to the private prison industry in the future: Barclays and U.S. Bank.” While these are not formal divestment announcements, they do indicate that Barclays and U.S. Bank could be feeling the heat. (NOTE: The U.S. Bank statement is deceptive; U.S. Bank hasn’t issued loans to GEO or CoreCivic for many years, at least. However, they are the “bond trustee” for CoreCivic and have not announced intentions to exit this position. While bond trustees do not provide direct financing, they facilitate financing by assuming an important administrative role and by underwriting bonds, buying bonds from an issuer and re-selling them to individual bondholders.)

Major Institutional Shareholders of GEO and CoreCivic:

*This data was obtained through institutional holdings listings on NASDAQ and was last updated on 3/31/2019. To find exact holding values use the NASDAQ website for GEO or CoreCivic. Offices listed may or may not be accessible to the public.

Vanguard Group – CoreCivic and GEO Group

Vanguard offices.

BlackRock – CoreCivic and GEO Group

BlackRock offices.

Prudential Financial – CoreCivic and GEO Group

Prudential offices.

State Street Corp – CoreCivic and GEO Group

State Street Corp offices.

—-

Already, #DivestfromICE organizers have begun to exert pressure on some of the aforementioned and lesser-known financiers. On July 26th, a rolling picket winding through downtown Seattle occupied HSBC and U.S. Bank branches and shut down the lobbies of investment firm offices, Prudential Financial, BlackRock and Barclays. In Tampa, another round of disruptions hit 3 PNC bank branches in one day.

Like blockades at detention centers or airports, financial streams are another artery within the deportation and detention infrastructure that can be clogged through direct action. With the divestment momentum growing, now is the time to intervene in this node.

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U.S. Bank lobby occupied in downtown Seattle (7/26)
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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.