Activists tell Chase in Chicago: Stop Funding MTR

Written by Amanda Starbuck

Topics: Coal

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We just received an update from RAN activists in Chicago, whostaged a ‘flashmob-style die-in’ today (Friday April 2nd) at the Mid West headquarters of JPMorgan Chase.

Bill Daley, Head of Corporate Responsibility at JPMorgan Chase, is based in Chicago, and they were there to deliver Bill a message.

Twenty people entered the Chase building and lay-down on the ground wearing messages reading “Chase Blows Up Mountains”. Two activists revealed a banner, “Bill Daley – Where’s your MTR policy?”

Others distributed information to Chase employees and customers, explaining the issues surrounding mountaintop removal and Chase bank’s role as the largest US financer of MTR coal mining.

The crew were inside the building for twenty minutes. They were detained by bank security guards who called the police, who arrived promptly and insisted that the peaceful protesters be allowed to leave.

It is clear that Chase are getting frustrated by this campaign. But we’re committed to keep going until the bank releases a public policy detailing their commitment to end financing of mountaintop removal.

If you agree, please take action with us today and call Bill Daley.

16 Comments For This Post I'd Love to Hear Yours!

  1. Really says:

    Seriously, you people need to get JOBS, and stop draining the economy. The idiot speaking today used the word “bomb” inside the bank. Several customers including myself thought he was a suicide bomber. I am hoping he will be prosecuted to the fullest extend that the law allows.

  2. Really says:

    Also, your speaker left like a coward instead of taking the rap with the rest of your protesters. Another one started crying when she was handcuffed. It’s all fun and games, ruining business for those employees and patrons uninvolved in the situation, until you realize you are hypocrites and there are better ways of getting your point across, which I am sure is good, but very very poor delivered.

  3. Apple Jack says:

    We have jobs, (many activist do) and many of us are Chase customers that are sickened by the fact that Chase refuses to state that they will divest from M.T.R. This issue is so important that I took a day off from work to come to this. Please take the time to learn more about the devastating practice of mountaintop removal coal mining in which explosives are used to literally blow up the tops of mountains. Listen to the stories of people who live near these projects and are subjected to rock flying from sites (one little boy was killed while in his home), polluted drinking water, and sickness. Chase bank needs to take responsibility for how they invest OUR money. The EPA has come out with numerous statements saying that M.T.R. is harmful to ecosystems and people. When will Chase bank wise up and invest in socially responsible practices rather than M.T.R.? Will it take losing many customers and gaining a tarnished reputation? The choice is up to Chase.

  4. Brian in Chicago says:

    I guess “Really” has had his head up his own bum for the last 2 years and doesn’t realize there’s a recession, so JOBS are hard to come by. Maybe “Really” supported Dems and Reps that sold-out our manufacturing base and severed a major artery of the U.S. economy.

    The protesters were probably speaking about the bombs that are used in mountain-top removal. You should take out your earbuds and listen next time. This mining is destroying communities in my home state and many others, but no one’s paying those citizens anything. Accountability doesn’t exist anymore, so praise to RAN for doing something…really.

    Do you work for Chase? I’m not affiliated with RAN, but I probably will be now, after I take my money out of Chase. (expletive directed at knee-jerk sideline critics and Chase bank goes here _______!)

  5. Mark says:

    Well, as much as I don’t like Chase and their actions, “Really” has made a good point. When you are an activist and do things like that be ready for the consequences. Guys left like cowards leaving poor girls to be arrested. You either support the group and stick with the group or don’t call yourself a member. There are also other ways to protest, you can do it outside the branch or while inside just wear t-shirts with slogans. I am all up for stopping M.T.R but you people need to be organized better.

  6. Peter says:

    “When you are an activist and do things like that be ready for the consequences. Guys left like cowards leaving poor girls to be arrested. You either support the group and stick with the group or don’t call yourself a member. ”

    The intention was never for this action to be a sit-in. We were peacefully demonstrating and had an action plan to leave when asked. We received a directive from the commanding police officer and everyone began standing to walk out the door. It just so happened that more guys than girls made it out before he changed his mind.

    There were no gender roles in this action. No “poor girls” left as victims. We all agreed before hand on how to handle the situation and all involved were prepared for the worst. Those who “left” became part of the support team to make sure everyone was safe in the end. Not to mention that there were two police liaisons, legal observers, and a lawyer inside to protect those who were detained.

    If we really want to end MTR, we have to do more than wear t-shirts and protest outside bank branches. Decision makers (both political and corporate) need to know where the people/customers stand. And in our nation’s history, nonviolent civil disobedience has proven over and over again to be one of the most effective tactics.

    I am 22, in college, and hoping for a bright future. To me, that means putting myself on the line for something I believe in. If t-shirts were enough to end MTR, I’d sign on to that idea in a second and spend the rest of my time enjoying my youth. Instead, I’m organizing political campaigns and participating in direct action when many others would be at the bar.

    Direct action isn’t for everyone, but it takes time and critical thinking. It won’t always go off perfectly, though I am happy with how yesterday went. Just waiting now for Chase’s response on Monday. I’m certain Bill and Jamie are less than thrilled.

  7. DM says:

    I was one of the activists involved in the action. We are activists, students, teachers, artists, business owners, parents, and workers committed to taking non-violent direct action to protest the violent practice of blowing up mountains for coal. By lying down in the bank, we stood up to this destruction in a peaceful way. The action was a well-executed, carefully planned and very powerful non-violent, peaceful protest.

    Those attached to a financial interest in MTR are desperately trying to hold onto this power to destroy, hence “Really’s” silly claims made above. These hollow accusations are merely the weak echoes of the death rattle of the destructive practice of MTR. We are winning this movement, as evidenced by the EPA’s recent announcement, and the changing practices of multiple financial institutions in pulling their support from MTR.

    The mentioning of “bombs” during the action was of course made in the context of describing the destructive means by which mountains are blown up with funding from JP Morgan Chase. As we lay on the floor of the Chase HQ in mock “death,” we paid homage to those who suffer and die from the effects of MTR, and to the death of majestic mountains and all the life that they support. We carried a powerful, peaceful message that we do not tolerate the greedy destruction of life for the profit of a few.

    Which side are you on, “Really?”

  8. DM says:

    For all those in Chicago who want to join our campaign against MTR, please join us at meetup.com/RANChicago

  9. Mark says:

    Peter, I think it’s funny how you quote civil disobedience, but I don’t think you really know what it means. Civil disobedience includes willingness to accept penalties for drawing attention to unjust laws or practices. Judging on your response I am pretty sure you were one of those who left before things got too serious. Doesn’t seem like everyone was prepared for the worst. All I was trying to say is that you can make you point across using different methods since this one didn’t obviously go as planned.

    Direct action isn’t for everyone as you pointed out.

  10. DM says:

    Mark,

    This action actually did go as planned, and went beautifully. It was not our intent in this action to get arrested, it was our intent to make a bold statement that we will not back down until Chase stands against destroying mountains and communities for coal. Getting arrested yesterday would have wasted energies that are better spent on our campaign. No one “abandoned” any of our members — we had a strategic plan, as Peter mentioned, which included police liasons, legal observers, an on-site lawyer, and a team of activists waiting off-site to provide jail support if necessary. Again, getting arrested is not the point of civil disobedience, and sticking around to risk getting arrest just because someone is detained is not the point of a CD. One person was merely detained for a brief moment, and we had everyone on standby in support. Again, like with the person above listed as “Really,” these “red herring” allegations are just a way to divert attention from the real issue at bay — we need to stop MTR once and for all, and those ready to do that in Chicago should join us! We’ve got some great stuff brewing over the next few months, so stay tuned.

  11. ELM says:

    As the “poor girl” I’m just throwing out there that I was never for a moment “abandoned” or “unsupported.” In addition, I was “prepared.” I became upset and teared up for about 2 minutes. I’m sorry if that upset people and thank you for your concern, but Please don’t use the fact that I have emotions and am a woman as an argument against the environmental movement.

  12. MF says:

    As one of the “girls” “left behind” I can say that we were in no way abandoned. The several women and one man who were detained in the branch all made the conscious choice to be there and were prepared for the consequences. I will repeat others in saying that the point of our action was never to get arrested, however we did plan for that chance and arranged to have legal representatives present. But as can be seen by the fact that we did not get arrested, we were not doing anything illegal. We entered a public space, made our point passionately and clearly and left the premise when asked. The fact that Chase personal insisted on our arrest, despite having no grounds for arrest, shows how effective our actions are. People have to be aware of what their money is supporting. Do you want your money destroying hundreds of mountains and streams and causing entire towns to have undrinkable water? I don’t, and I would want to know if it was. And as for the issue of us being “unsupported”, I think the hundreds of phone calls made to Bill Daley while we laid on the floor shows the nation wide support that our campaign has.

  13. Lilah says:

    Maybe ELM was just tearing up over the horrific destruction being caused by Chase and the supporters of Chase. These issues *should* be important enough for us to cry over. We’ve been too numb and pacified into thinking that blowing up the world is somehow OK and normal, as long as there is money in it for us or that it does something for the economy.

    As Mark said, look past these “red herring” distractions to the importance of the issues at hand. Think about all the human and non human animals, who are being destroyed over people’s addiction to over-consumption.

    When it comes down to it, we’re all on the same side. Like it or not, we all depend on the planet and its ecosystems.

    Some people think that money is on their side, but it’s not. Money can’t do everything. It can’t bring back ecosystems and it can’t resurrect the dead.

    Put pride, red herrings, stigmas, and petty differences to rest, it’s not too late to STAND UP FOR YOUR OWN WORLD.

  14. Lilah says:

    What I mean to say is, we should stop focusing on what we think about the MESSENGERS, and start caring about the MESSAGE.

    What matters more?

    That you like/don’t like the protesters and what they look like/their shows of emotion/jobs/perceived social status?

    Or is the message/issue at hand more worthy of your attention: That people and animals and the world are BEING BLOWN UP?

  15. Really says:

    Your protest that “went beautifully,” would have been seen by thousands outside of the bank on the street. Instead it was seen by 50 people inside the bank. If you are really trying to make a difference for what seems like a good cause, get your heads out of your own bums and figure that out. If It’s the message that counts prove it with worthwhile actions that will be recognized by the masses as opposed to a select few. Challenge your leadership which is clearly serving self interests instead of making a difference. And leave the innocent alone or you are no better then the people and the practices you protest.

  16. JL says:

    Dear Really,
    Many protests have been done outside the headquarters and banks all across the city and country. These have all been seen by thousands of passers-by and some have gained good media attention. The group decided it was time to bring the message inside to Bill Daley. If you work for Chase or are a customer and think this seems like a good cause as you put it, it would be great for you to challenge your leadership and ask them why they are the only major U.S. bank still funding mountaintop removal mining.

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