A Crazy Kick-Off for Day of Action against Coal Finance

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A few months back, when tomorrow’s day of action against coal and coal finance was already in our calendars, the Global Finance Campaign team discovered that Bank of America would be hosting a conference for the energy industry in Miami, Florida November 12th-14th. Executives from the oil, coal, natural gas and nuclear energy sectors would all be present. What a fabulous coincidence! We decided that it would be great to put some pressure on Bank of America to end their financing of dirty fossil fuels, including coal, and build a truly clean energy portfolio on the day before our day of action.

So off to Miami I went. I have to say that I wasn’t sad to pack my bathing suit and sunscreen and escape the beginnings of fall in San Francisco. The opportunity to come face to face with Bank of America on the eve of our day of action certainly added to the excitement. I met up with activists from Everglades Earth First! near Miami and we quickly cooked up what we were sure was a great plan, one that involved row-boating our way to the beach-front Ritz Carlton hotel where the conference is being held, and presenting Bank of America and energy sector executives with a winning performance outlining Bank of America’s transition to funding clean energy instead of false solutions.

Unfortunately, our clever plan fell apart once we realized that Bank of America’s beach-side cocktail party had been (suspiciously?) moved to the lawn further on the hotel campus. We quickly regrouped our crew of trouble-makers and decided to crash their cocktail party. We sadly ditched our boat and made our way to the lawn at the Ritz Carlton. We used a megaphone to make the presentation that we had planned for the boat, outlining the reasons that Bank of America needs to move away from dirty energy and toward better energy solutions. Two of us held a banner reading “Captains of Industry: Rise Above Dirty Energy!” and we had a few others on hand to help negotiate with security officers and take pictures.

What happened next was truly unexpected – before security could even get to us and tell us to leave, the group of energy executives assembled fell into two groups, the first curiously watching and listening our presentation, and the second group angrily and aggressively attacking us! I think the cocktail party must have been going on for a bit, because one conference-goer ran at our banner and grabbed it and tried to wrestle it away from the guys holding it, while another poured his beer on one of the banner-holders and a third angrily yelled in our faces as we spoke into the megaphone. Wow. Seems like they are a bit defensive, maybe they should look for another line of work? By the time security asked us to leave, we were ready to scram, and I just wanted to get out of there without someone getting punched.

So, we successfully brought a message demanding clean energy to the conference, and we disrupted their cocktail party, but I have to say I never expected the reaction that we got.