Climate Justice Committee rallies against major fossil fuel funder Wells Fargo
Minneapolis, MN – On Wednesday, August 30, the Climate Justice Committee held a rally outside the corporate offices of Wells Fargo in downtown Minneapolis to call attention to the key role that big banks and their government allies play in funding fossil fuel projects and manufacturing the conditions for what is now the planet’s hottest summer in recorded history.
The Wells Fargo offices are a sprawling complex of interconnected buildings, all loudly sporting its red and gold logo. Directly across the street looms the towering silhouette of another major financial institution, U.S. Bank, whose name adorns the Twin Cities’ garish 70,000-person NFL stadium. Only a few blocks away, offices for Bank of America and J.P. Morgan stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Minneapolis City Hall and Hennepin County Jail. In microcosm, this location represents exactly what the rally’s speakers sought to bring to light.
On behalf of Tsuru for Solidarity, a Japanese American community organization, Kent Mori spoke on the recent catastrophic wildfires on the Hawaiian island of Maui, emphasizing the role played by these major financiers in creating the artificial environmental conditions that led to the fires.
“The fire in Lahaina need not have occurred if not for the water theft to fuel plantations by the Dole and other corporations. The corporate drive for profit produced a desert environment in the tropical wetland of Maui,” Mori said. “These corporate crimes continue after the devastating fire on Lahaina; land developers are already sniffing about trying to steal land from the community in dire straits. These crimes weigh most heavily on indigenous peoples; note that this is stolen Dakota land, and Wells Fargo is able to pursue its profit-making, climate-killing schemes because of that theft.”
Next spoke Kawakata El Ti, an organizer with the Climate Justice Committee who has been involved with recent struggles in Minneapolis against evictions of majority-Native tent encampments, and who gave a moving tribute to Dan Dan, a Native community member who selflessly devoted his life to taking care of the unhoused and the land on which we all live. Dan Dan died of heat stroke last week while MPD officers stood by and, according to some bystanders, obstructed paramedics from saving his life. Dan Dan had spent six straight days volunteering to clean up trash at an encampment, all in a sweltering heat wave. The day after Dan Dan died, the Minnesota State Patrol conducted a militarized eviction operation on the encampment, once again displacing over 130 people – almost all of whom were indigenous.
From the East Phillips Neighborhood Institute, Joe Vital spoke on the Climate Justice Committee’s role as a coalition partner in the fight for community control of the Roof Depot building. Vital underlined how crucial it was in their campaign that the coalition built up grassroots support within the community and turned it into mass action in the streets.
Meredith Aby-Keirstead stepped up next, on behalf of the Anti-War Committee, to illustrate the connection between major financial institutions like Wells Fargo and the environmental destruction wrought by U.S. imperialism and the military-industrial complex. In her speech, she drew attention to the monstrous sums of money being spent on the ongoing U.S. proxy war in Ukraine, environmentally destructive in its own right, that could instead so easily be used to finance the green infrastructure that humankind so desperately needs.
Climate Justice Committee member Charlie Berg concluded the rally, saying, “If you walk away from today having learned only one thing, let it be this: we are not doomed! These corporate oligarchs want so badly for us to be quiet, or for us to limit our expectations, or that we recoil into our personal lives and give up the fight altogether, because what they so deeply fear is the alternative – that we organize!” He continued, punctuating his final remarks with a well-known protest slogan: “What they fear – and what we ought to constantly remind ourselves of – is this: when we fight, we win!”