Just days before DNC delegates descended on Charlotte, the streets here were filled with throngs of the 99%.
Nearly 2,000 protestors marched through the heart of Wall Street South, stopping to demand social, economic and environmental justice outside the headquarters of Bank of America and Duke Energy. In 92 degree heat, the pervasive mood was one of solidarity and unity in our demand for a better world.
In a march that included undocumented freedom-riders, occupiers, and activists of all races, ages and backgrounds, calls for immediate climate justice were lifted up repeatedly. Near Bank of America’s global headquarters, protestors chanted “Banks are blowing up mountains. Keep the coal in the ground, y’all.” As the march surged past Duke Energy, chants changed to “No Coal! No Nukes! No Fracking Way!”
As a Charlotte native, I was honored to address the crowd at the base of Bank of America’s corporate tower. For many local organizers, the March on Wall Street South was the culmination of a year’s work. I used the opportunity raise up one of our key demands: the immediate cessation of Bank of America’s funding for the coal industry.
Here’s the speech I gave to the crowd:
I’m marching today, because we are in the midst of an emergency. Climate change is a global catastrophe that is happening right now.
We know this as we watch drought grip the United States, levees overtopped in Louisiana, West Nile Virus outbreaks in Houston, wildfires in the the west. This the emergency that we wake up to every morning: melting glaciers, starving children, record-breaking heat waves. A planet poisoned by fossil fuel pollution.
This isn’t happening by accident. The fossil fuel industry: coal, oil, and natural gas, are working to keep us dependent on their poisonous fuels that cook our planet.
These industries want to make sure we burn ALL the coal, all the oil, all the gas, EVEN THOUGH THEY KNOW THAT IT IS KILLING OUR PLANET. The fossil fuel industry is the most radical and dangerous entity on earth, willing to drive our living systems to the point of collapse for a pile of money.
Why do we march on Wall Street South? We march because the climate crisis starts here: this bank, Bank of America, is the SINGLE largest funder of climate change in the United States. Last year, Bank of America pumped $6.4 billion into the coal industry EVEN THOUGH THE BANK ACKNOWLEDGES THAT CLIMATE CHANGE IS HAPPENING.
Bank of America’s money built the coal plant in your backyard, Bank of America’s money has destroyed the Appalachian Mountians, Bank of America’s money is fueling the climate crisis.
Right now, every living species is in the house, and the house is on fire. When Bank of America funds the coal industry, it pours gasoline on the fire.
We have got to put the fire out, and we can’t do that if Bank of America keeps pouring coal into the furnace of climate change. We must keep fossil fuels in the ground, we must stop Bank of America from funding the destruction of our world.
And friends, we are the only thing standing between the banks and the burning. You and I, the 99%.
This convention is failing to address the largest catastrophe in human history, but you are not failing. Our movement is WINNING the fight against King Coal; even as we beat back fracking and leave oil behind.
You are a part of this victory. You have decided to march today for a better world and liveable future. Across the country, thousands of us are fighting to save planet earth, the only home we’ve ever known. We need more of these heroes!
We need your heroism too. Everyone has a place in this movement; find your place.
Every morning we must wake up and face the greatest test of morality in human history: can we stop the fossil fuel burning? Can we stop Bank of America’s funding for the coal industry?
This emergency moment demands nothing less than our greatest efforts and fiercest resolve. We are answering this call to justice. Forward! Forward to save our Earth. Fight harder!