Arrests Made at Chase Bank as Protests Escalate Against Bank’s Funding Choices

“Block the Big Banks” rally decries Chase funding of pipelines, prisons and immigrant detention centers


New York – Following the arrest of three peaceful protesters at Chase’s Manhattan Private Client offices at One Chase Plaza this morning, organizations fighting for economic justice, immigrant rights and environmental protection are rallying today in heart of Wall Street to protest what they describe as destructive and dangerous financing decisions by Chase Bank, including funding of fossil fuel pipelines, prisons and immigration detention centers. Today’s protests follow a similar protest that took place yesterday in San Francisco as well as one scheduled for tomorrow in Seattle and is part of a growing international movement calling on Chase to reform its controversial financing practices.


Three people, Tirosh Schneider and Josef Reisenbichler with Sunrise Movement NYC and Alexandra Zevin with People’s Puppets and Sane Energy Project, were arrested this morning after locking down to a symbolic whooping crane nest sculpture inside the Chase private client building at 28 Liberty St. Whooping cranes are a highly endangered and protected bird whose core migratory habitat would be impacted by the Keystone XL pipeline. Groups involved in today’s protest action include Rainforest Action Network, Sane Energy Project, Sunrise Movement, New Economy Project, Peace Poets, Make the Road NY, NY Communities for Change and New Sanctuary Coalition.


JPMorgan Chase is the largest lender to both of the two largest private prison giants GEO Group and CoreCivic, which manage some of the detention centers at the heart of the controversy over the separation of families and incarceration of individuals for crossing the US border. As of June 2017 Chase was known to hold $254 million in their debt. Activists have criticized Chase’s financial entanglement with private prisons for years, pointing out that the company’s public commitment to human rights is at odds with profiteering off of locking up prisoners.


Chase is also the biggest Wall Street funder of extreme fossil fuels: tar sands, Arctic oil; ultra-deepwater oil; fracked gas; liquefied fracked gas (LNG) export; and coal mining and power. It is also a major funder of oil drilling in the Amazon rainforest.


Tomorrow is the deadline for Chase to renew its credit line of $1.5 billion with TransCanada. TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline, if built, would would transport up to 830,000 barrels of oil every day from Canada’s tar sands — one of the dirtiest energy sources in the world — to refineries in Texas. A Federal Judge has demanded TransCanada halt construction of the KXL pipeline but JP Morgan Chase is still funneling money into this mega tar sands oil pipeline.


According to the Equator Principles, which Chase claims to follow, banks are not to finance projects that violate Indigenous rights of Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC). Meanwhile, the Cheyenne River and Yankton Sioux Tribes do not consent to the Keystone XL pipeline going through their lands, and are challenging the Public Utilities Commission. The Rosebud Sioux Tribe and Fort Belknap Indian Community of Montana are suing the Trump administration, contending there was no effort to study the impacts KXL would have on their community’s watershed and sacred sites. Additionally, the Yankton Sioux Tribe is also challenging TransCanada on it’s lack of consultation and cultural surveys.


Yatziri Tovar, spokesperson for Make the Road New York: “We protest Chase today because this company bankrolls oppression at private prisons and immigrant detention centers that regularly abuse, maim, and kill members of our communities. While Jamie Dimon keeps trying to say he supports immigrants, his company is financing the two companies, the GEO Group and CoreCivic, on which the Trump administration most heavily relies to tear apart families, put children in cages, and violate basic rights. No matter how much they try to whitewash their image, Dimon and his company are backers of hate.”


Laurel Sutherlin with Rainforest Action Network: “Chase cannot claim to be a neutral actor when it comes to the climate and human rights. As Wall Street’s biggest funder of fossil fuels the bank has tremendous influence to exercise in determining the future shape of our economy and the livability of our planet. Today we are demanding Chase start cleaning up its act by choosing not to renew its massive credit support of the climate destroying Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.”


Tirosh Schneider with the Sunrise Movement: “We are here to stop Chase and other banks from funding projects that destroy our environment, pollute our earth and exploit our workers. We demand climate justice now, and urge all of our institutions to support a Green New Deal.”


Alexandra Zevin a member of Sane Energy Project: “Chase also funds the proposed Williams NESE fracked gas pipeline slated for NYC as part of a $3 billion loan package in July 2018. This pipeline is not only opposed by residents in PA, NJ and New York City for lack of need, plus health and safety hazards, but over 42,000 scientific experts who contributed to the recent IPCC report consent on curbing global warming emissions from fossil fuels, like this pipeline would carry, and all other destructive pipelines that Chase funds.”


Deyanira Del Rio, co-director of New Economy Project: “Each year, New York City moves hundreds of millions of dollars through JPMorgan Chase. Not only does Chase exploit and extract wealth from low-income neighborhoods and neighborhoods of color, but it also fuels climate chaos through its investments in the fossil fuel industry. Through a public bank, New York City can divest from banks that profit from the criminalization of communities and the destruction of our planet, and can invest in community-controlled clean energy, permanently-affordable housing, and much more.”


New Sanctuary Coalition member Rev. David F. Telfort of Lafayette Ave. Presbyterian Church. “Many financial institutions have historically demonstrated allegiance to profits even if it means destroying lives, economies or land. People of faith and conscious must speak out. In this day and age, we must stand with those most impacted by the financing of detention centers. Asylum is a right. No one deserves to live in detention because they are fleeing danger. Any bank that stands to profit from inhumane border policies must be held accountable.”

(photo by Michael Nigro)
(photo by Michael Nigro)
(photo by Michael Nigro)