Climate activists shut down Chase bank branches in Seattle; arrests made :: The Seattle Times


A dozen Chase bank branches in Seattle have been shut down by activists in an effort to stop loans to tar-sands oil-pipeline projects. Police report they have made arrests.

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Climate activists have shut down 12 branches of JPMorgan Chase bank in Seattle and are targeting more branches all over the city in an effort to stop loans to tar-sands oil-pipeline projects.

Seattle police officers in the lobby of the Chase branch on Second Avenue initially stood by, but made no move to arrest demonstrators as they did a Native American round dance circling the shuttered teller windows, then sang and drummed.

However, police later tweeted that they had begun making arrests, although the number was not immediately released.

An Associated Press photographer witnessed officers handcuffing and arresting three people at one bank branch in the International District.

Led by Indian activists who took part in the Standing Rock encampment demonstration against the Dakota Access Pipeline, the actions Monday were intended to move the opposition to fossil-fuel development to the next battleground: financing of new tar-sands pipelines including the Keystone and TransMountain projects.

"We are winning!" Rachel Heaton of the Muckleshoot Tribe yelled to a crowd of about 50 activists in the lobby.

Chase is just one of many major investors expected to be approached by pipeline developers to loan money for their projects. Activists say they want to "name and shame" funders and make it too toxic to lend to those developers.

"We are committed to civil disobedience at Chase branches all over the city," said Ahmed Gaya, an activist with 350 Seattle, an organizer of the demonstrations.

Further tar-sands pipeline development will lead to catastrophic climate change, Gaya said. "We need to keep the majority of fossil fuel in the ground."

Activists were locked together at two branches by midafternoon, saying they would not leave unless police removed them; no arrests had yet been made.

Each action was a little different. In Fremont a karaoke dance party was underway, while the Second Avenue branch was given over to song and prayer.

"It looks like the police are trying to wait us out," said Ray Kingfisher of the Northern Cheyenne tribe. "But we are patient."