By J. Gabriel WareJames Trimarco for Yes! Magazine – The movement to stop the controversial Dakota Access pipeline through financial activism took an important step forward today, as the Seattle City Council voted 9-0 to approve a bill that terminates a valuable city contract with Wells Fargo. The bank, one of the largest in the United States, has provided more than $450 million in credit to the companies building the pipeline. The move makes Seattle the first city to divest from a financial institution because of its role in the Dakota Access pipeline, a $3.8 billion project that would run from western North Dakota to Illinois, and is fiercely opposed by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. Wells Fargo is one of 17 banks directly financing the project.
By Frances Madeson for Counter Punch – “Many people are, rightfully, afraid that executive support [President Trump’s] now means that the pipelines are full steam ahead,” said Melanie Yazzie, co-founder of The Red Nation, an activist coalition dedicated to the liberation of Native people from capitalism and colonialism. She views divestment as obstruction—the good kind—something akin to water protectors locking down on construction equipment and as a continuation of the widespread resistance that has united under the cry of #NoDAPL. “The investors and financiers will not move forward if the projects are deemed financially unfavorable,” Yazzie said.
By Emma Niles for Truth Dig – Council Bill 118883 was proposed by Kshama Sawant, the only socialist member currently sitting on Seattle’s City Council. “If Seattle divests from Wells Fargo, it will greatly fuel the inspiring nationwide struggle against the Dakota Access pipeline and the oil lobby,” Sawant said at a rally prior to Wednesday’s vote. “I urge council members to support this legislation as part of Seattle’s fightback against Trump and the billionaire class.” The legislation passed the finance committee Wednesday and, according to Sawant, will go to Seattle’s full City Council for a vote on Feb. 6. Still, many saw Wednesday’s vote as a decisive victory.
By Andrea Germanos for Common Dreams – The value of funds making the commitment has doubled in size since September 2015. Marking the divestment movement’s “undeniable success,” a new report shows the value of funds controlled by individuals and institutions who have vowed to dump their fossil fuels assets now surpasses $5 trillion. 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben said the “news is mammoth.” The report (pdf) by Arabella Advisors for the Divest-Invest Network shows that the value of global funds making the commitment—now at about $5.2 trillion—has doubled in size since September 2015…
By Mike Ludwig for Truthout – Not long after returning home from the Dakota Access pipeline protests at Standing Rock, Oregon resident Ali Pullen was testifying before the Portland City Council in an effort to dump several large corporations from the city’s list of contractors and investment interests. Pullen, who had traveled to Standing Rock with a delegation of people of color from Portland, specifically testified about Caterpillar, a major construction contractor for Dakota Access, and Wells Fargo, one of 17 banks financing a pipeline that activists are now risking life and limb to stop.
By Staff of RT – Black Lives Matter protesters taking aim at police union offices forced a shutdown of one in Washington, DC. Simultaneously in Detroit, activists chained themselves to a police station to demand the ouster of an officer who shot dead a 7-year-old in 2010. Protests, held by Black Youth Project 100 (BYP100) and Black Lives Matter, hit several cities across the US on Wednesday. July 20 would have been the 14th birthday of Aiyana Stanley-Jones, who was shot dead in a SWAT raid on her house in May 2010.
By Robert P. Connolly for UMass Amherst – BOSTON – The University of Massachusetts today became the first major public university to divest its endowment from direct holdings in fossil fuels. The decision was made by a unanimous vote of the Board of Directors of the UMass Foundation, a separate not-for-profit corporation that oversees an endowment whose value was $770 million at the end of the last fiscal year. The decision followed a series of developments that signaled the University community’s desire to fight climate change.
By Nika Knight for Common Dreams – A series of sit-ins and protests urging universities to divest their endowments from fossil fuels gained new strength this week, as students at the University of Montana, Vassar College, Northern Arizona University, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison launched their own actions to combat climate change. Two nights in a row, on Monday and Tuesday multiple students at Northern Arizona University (NAU) were arrested for taking part in a nonviolent action demanding their school divest from oil and gas companies.
By Nadia Prupis for Common Dreams – Students at three major American universities are digging in for a series of prolonged sit-ins and risking suspension and arrest to demand that their schools divest from fossil fuels. NYU’s protest, which launched Monday, saw students with NYU Divest occupying the administrative elevator and lobby of the school’s Bobst Library to demand the Board of Trustees holds a vote on divestment at its next meeting and allows the group to give them a presentation.
By Martin Fleck for PSR – Mayor Denise Simmons of Cambridge, Massachusetts announced on April 2 that by unanimous City Council vote, Cambridge will divest its $1 billion pension fund from “any entities that are involved in or support the production or upgrading of nuclear weapons systems.” Mayor Simmons announced divestment at an MIT symposium, Reducing the Dangers of Nuclear War, organized by The Future of Life Institute, where PSR Board Member and IPPNW Co-president Ira Helfand, MD delivered a plenary talk on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons.
By Ayla Besemer and Finnegan Schick for Yale News – In a Tuesday letter to Yale’s Advisory Committee on Investor Responsibility, Chief Investment Officer David Swensen reported that after months of talking with Yale’s external investment managers about the potential risks associated with investments in coal and oil, around $10 million of the endowment has been removed from three publicly traded fossil fuel producers. Tuesday’s message follows a letter penned by Swensen in 2014, in which he asked Yale’s investment managers to consider climate change in their investment choices.
By Catie Edmondson, Teo Armus, and Cauver Suresh for Columbia Daily Spectator – Sixteen members of Columbia Divest for Climate Justice are conducting an indefinite sit-in inside Low Library to demand that the University divest from the fossil fuel industry. The group—which has been campaigning for this goal since its founding in fall 2012—may be in potential violation of the Rules of Conduct. While CDCJ had a meeting with Bollinger scheduled for Apr. 29, the group is demanding for Bollinger to meet with them immediately and issue a statement in support of divesting from the top 200 publicly traded fossil fuel companies.
By Amanda Hoover for Boston – University of Massachusetts officials announced Tuesday that they would back a policy for the university system to divest from fossil fuel companies after students occupied a campus administrative building. Fifteen protesters were later arrested after refusing to vacate the scene. “Throughout my career, I have stood for environmental progress and reducing the carbon footprint,” UMass President Marty Meehan said in a statement.
By Luca F. Scroeder for the Crimson. Police arrested several members of the student activist group Divest Harvard after they staged a sit-in within the lobby of the Boston Federal Reserve Tuesday afternoon, protesting Harvard Management Company’s investment in the fossil fuel industry. Four members of Divest Harvard protested in the building, which houses HMC, the University’s investment arm that manages its $37.6 billion endowment. Members of Divest Harvard identified the arrested protesters as Naima Drecker-Waxman ’18, Applied Physics graduate student Benjamin Franta, School of Public Health student Rory Stewart, and Adam Cory Vander Tuig, a student at the Divinity School and Memorial Church seminarian. About 25 students, faculty members, and alumni who support Divest Harvard held a rally outside of the building at the same time.