Sunday afternoon a group of around 40 individuals marched through downtown Portland equipped with chalk, caution tape, and mud. The group paid a visit to the Bank of America on SW 5th and Stark and a Wells Fargo on SW 6th and Morrison, and created a climate crime scene on and around these banks. Signs were taped all over the widows reading “Closed for Climate Crimes”, “Deposit here, fund coal” and images of coal extraction. The group covered the sidewalks with body outlines and chalked images of chopped trees and blown up mountains. A group of activists began plastering fake dollar bills on the walls with muddy hand prints to call out these corporations for the dirty money they house within.
Coal fired power plants are the top source of air pollution and toxic mercury in the nation and emit nearly 3 billion tons- or one third- of our nation’s greenhouse gas emissions per year. Particulates in the air emitted from coal are especially damaging to those living near coal-burning power plants or working in mines. According to the Center for Disease Control, 12,000 coal miners died between 1992 and 2002 from black lung.
The group consisted of student organizers with the Power Shift 2011 conference, local Rising Tide activists, and other concerned community members. Activists are targeting Wells Fargo and Bank of America because these institutions are some of the top financiers of coal extraction as well as coal-powered infrastructure.
This is the third in a series of actions taken against these banks in the Portland area in the past 6 weeks by Rising Tide and others. Other recent actions have included renegade ATM closures as well as serving 25 banks official notices requesting that they divest from coal or expect direct action campaigns. The demands are clear: NO financing for companies pursuing coal-fired power plants, mountaintop removal mining, or coal export infrastructure.