Climate First! protests at Wells Fargo branch against Keystone XL stake

On the 28th of October, Climate First! showed up in front of the Wells Fargo branch near Howard University, which they reported is the last Wells Fargo branch in DC to be open on Saturdays. Activists were there to protest the bank’s role in funding the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, which TransCanada will announce in December whether they still plan to go forward with or not.

Wells Fargo is one of 21 banks that collectively provide $5 billion in revolving credit for TransCanada as a whole, and along with Citibank went so far as to recommit to this investment while the massive public fight over the Dakota Access Pipeline (which they also helped fund) was raging. Wells Fargo is also infamous for funding private prisons, and even for opening fake accounts in customer’s names and setting up fake auto insurance policies that among other things led to many cars being reposessed.

If Wells Fargo dumps the Keystone XL between now and the December decision by TransCanada on building the pipeline or not, that could be the nail in the entire project’s coffin. With as many pipelines as TransCanada owns and operates, the loss of even 5% of their entire line of credit could force them to reduce “capital expenditures” such as new construction by an amount possibly exceeding the entire cost of any one pipeline. With three years of oil prices insufficient to pay for tar sands refining, a replacement for Wells Fargo would be difficult to find.

Already many banks (such as ING) have cleared their portfolios of investments in tar sands, due in part to public pressure and in part due to the past three years of oil prices in the $50 a barrel range when it takes $70 a barrel for tar sands (and thus the Keystone XL) to turn a profit. For Wells Fargo not to follow ING Bank’s lead is not only to show reckless disregard for climate science but also to show reckless disregard for the safety of their depositors’ money. History shows that a previous oil price meltdown was responsible for the collapse of the Texas savings and loan industry in 1986, forcing a massive taxpayer-funded bailout of the entire industry to keep depositors from losing their funds.

Video from the Wells Fargo protest

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DC High Heel Race participants lampoon Trump

On October 24, the 30th running of the annual pre-Halloween High Heel Race took over 17th st. Several participants lampooned Donald Trump, two of them about the paper towels he tossed in Puerto Rico as though a roll of paper towels could wipe up Hurricane Maria’s mess.

Video showing multiple participants mocking Trump

FEMA riding on Donald Trump with a roll of paper towels

Donald Trump with paper towels

Yes he is!

The massive crowd at the High Heel Race

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DC reinvest rallies at Wilson Building demanding DC Government cut ties with racist Wells Fargo

On the 23ed of October, DC Reinvest protested at the Wilson Building, demanding that the city government remove all its accounts and business from Wells Fargo. A resolution has been introduced in the council to divest, and activists are focussing pressure on councilmember Jack Evans to get it brought to a vote. Wells Fargo’s failing community reinvestment score triggers an existing DC law forbidding the city’s business relationship with this notorious and predatory bank.

Wells Fargo is infamous for investing in both the Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines. They are infamous for their investments in the GEO Group and its privatly-owned prisons. They also are infamous for predatory lending, and for opening fake accounts and auto insurance policies in the names of existing customers.

One of the speakers at the rally detailed Well’s Fargo’s decision to target inner-city communities in DC and Baltimore for predatory subprime loans. She reports that Wells Fargo executives used the term “mud people” for depositors of color who got behind on their payments. This racial slur has its origins in the “two seedline” version of the racist “Christian Identity” movement, which was popular with neo-Nazis during the 1980’s and 1990’s. The use of this slur by Wells Fargo executives thus carries a lot of ugly baggage, and suggests that they are more than just another racist bank, and like many other things suggests that Wells Fargo is the worst of the worst and a special case.

Wells Fargo has also targetted DC’s Gay male community, seeking to encourage white cisgendered Gay men to open accounts by peddling a fake “country-western” image among the subset of Gay men who favor that culture. This is probably why the Wells Fargo stagecoach is such a common sight at Pride parades even though community activists have been blocking these contingents and confronting Well’s Fargo booths at Pride events for several years. That same stagecoach is in and of itself a symbol of racist oppression. The original Wells Fargo stagecoaches were in integral part of the infrastructure used to loot and disposess the lands and Indigenous people of western Turtle Island. In many ways, the Wells Fargo stagecoach was the Dakota Access pipeline of its time.

Well’s Fargo is targetting Indigenous communities on Turtle Island for displacement and destruction with their funding of pipelines such as the Keystone XL and the Dakota Access Pipeline. Indigenous people have resisted these projects to the utmost and have been as clear as possible that these projects do not have permission to cross their land! A break in either of these two Wells Fargo-funded pipelines could force Lakota people from their lands by permanently contaminating rivers which are the only source of water for them. This the chants of “Mni Wiconi” or “Water is Life” heard in Standing Rock and at pipeline and Wells Fargo protests all over Turtle Island, this protest included.

More on racial slurs and racial steering by Wells Fargo, had to use (dot) to break links so as to prevent WordPress from autoloading content from New York Times without being clicked on story on Well’s Fargo steering those they called “mud people” into subprime loans called “ghetto loans” on the basis of race


The NY Times reports African-American former loan officer Mr Paschal testified in an affidavit that “They referred to subprime loans made in minority communities as ghetto loans and minority customers as ‘those people have bad credit’, ‘those people don’t pay their bills’ and ‘mud people.”


Video including speaker calling out Wells Fargo’s racial slurs and a screenshot of the affidavit revealing the slurs

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DC Bike Party stages Pre-Halloween “Dark Alleys” ride

On the 18th of October, the monthly DC Bike Party took place a week later than normal and had a special pre-Halloween theme. This was the “Dark Alleys” ride, with some riders in costume and a lot of alley cut-throughs included on the route.

Video highlights of the ride(3 min 58 sec)

Heading downtown at the start of the ride

Passing the Convention Center just after the start of the 2nd half of the ride

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Protest against Trump’s Muslim ban 3.0 marches from White House to Trump Hotel

On the 17th of October, a Federal court blocked Trump’s third version of his Muslim Ban in response to a lawsuit by Hawaii. Trump being certain to appeal as before, mobilizing continues against the ban. On Oct 18, the day it was supposed to go into effect, a large protest marched from the White House to Trump Hotel.

The protest was in three parts. First up was a rally at the White House featuring Muslim speakers. A Kurdish refugee from Iraq told listeners he had been on a plane to the US when the first Muslim ban started going into effect and was yanked off the plane. He later was admitted to the US after the first and second Muslim Bans were suspended by court action.

The second part of the day was a march from the White House through the streets to Trump Hotel. The march stretched for blocks along Penn Ave. At Trump Hotel, a stage was waiting, and a second rally was held, this time featuring non-Muslim allies opposing Trump’s third attempt at a Muslim travel ban.

A Jewish speaker in the “allies” rally at Trump Hotel reminded everyone that as a Jew he understood the ugly historical precendents of both the ban and of Trump’s Islamophobia. This speaker went so far as to invoke remembering “what it’s like to be banned for who you are” in language invoking not only the 1030’s US rejection of Jewish refugees from Europe but the wholesale discrimination against Jews in the early years of the Nazi regime in Germany itself. It was not necessary to mention Nazi Germany by name for the comparison to Trump to be made very clear to anyone familiar with the history involved.

Video from the No Muslim Ban Ever protest

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Marchers for Puerto Rico condemn Trump’s paper towel toss, lack of aid

On the 18th of October, Puerto Ricans and supporters marched from the US Capitol to FEMA, demanding the Federal government provide aid for a community where power is still out, food and clean water are hard to get, and the impacts of Hurricane Maria are still largely unabated. One marcher from Silver Spring was quoted by the Washington Post as being especially incensed by Donald Trump’s tossing of paper towels during his visit to the island, as though the ravages of the hurricane could be simply wiped up.

There is widespread suspicion that differences in Federal aid to Texas and Puerto Rico after severe damage to both from this year’s brutal hurricane season is driven by racial consideration. Donald Trump for his part never misses an opportunity to trash talk almost anyone in Puerto Rico’s government who is involved in relief and rebuilding efforts.

As for relief efforts not involving the government, already a SWAT team has raided and harassed an anarchist-run relief program modelled after similar efforts in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. After Katrina too police sought to interfere with “holdouts” and non governmentally organized relief efforts, especially in the first few weeks before National Guard troops threatened to mutiny if ordered to remove holdout residents from their homes by force.

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Trump tax cut speech for Heritage Foundation draws protest, “Tax Chicken”

On the 17th of October, Donald Trump gave a speech for the Heritage Foundation at the Marriot at 901 Mass Ave. Organizers of the April 15th Tax March set up the “Tax Chicken” in the adjacent park, then they and other protesters marched onto the sidewalk where Heritage members and Trump supporters were filing in.

Protesters emphasized that Trump’s tax cut for the upper class and corporations would be paid for in part by big cuts to Medicaid and Medicare, which he is trying to gut. WTOP News reported earlier in the day that tax increases on the middle class would also result from the proposed tax “reform” and budget, yet it still would not be “revenue neutral.”

Video from the “Tax Chicken” rally and in front of the Marriot as the Trumpers arrived

The “Tax Chicken” from the April 15 march demanding Trump release his tax returns

In front of the Marriot just before Trump’s motorcade arrived and went behind the back of the hotel

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