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Resist Trump Tuesdays: Fighting the Banks That Fund Pipelines

The campaign to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline is far from over.

As part of this week’s Resist Trump Tuesday planned action, Bay Resistance protesters marched through downtown Oakland, Calif. to defund the Dakota Access Pipeline, despite President Trump ordering its completion.

The campaign to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline is far from over. One of the ways activists are seeking to halt its completion is by urging their cities to divest from banks — including Wells Fargo, Citibank and JPMorgan Chase — that provide credit to Energy Transfer Partners, the company building the pipeline.

The movement has successfully led cities from Alameda to Santa Monica, and tribes like the Mille Lacs and Muckleshoot, to divest billions from Wells Fargo. After the march in Oakland Tuesday, the Oakland City Council met and voted not to extend Oakland’s banking contract with JPMorgan Chase, one of the main backers of the pipeline.

The Oakland People’s Planet vs. Profits march included street theater depicting the earth stopping at pipeline-linked banks to “box” with them in “the match of a lifetime.” The protesters convened at the Wells Fargo Bank in Oakland, and proceeded to Citibank, JPMorgan Chase, the office of developer Phil Tagami, and finally Oakland City Hall. (In June, the Oakland City Council unanimously voted to ban the shipping and storage of coal, in a big win for environmentalists. In December, Tagami decided to sue over the coal ban.)

At night, the protesters reconvened back at Oakland City Hall for the town hall and successfully convinced the city council not to renew its contract with Chase, and as one impassioned speaker said, “ensure that future banking contracts take into account the violation of treaties and the rights of Mother Earth.”

Bay Resistance

Bay Resistance is an activist network uniting more than 50 organizations in the Bay Area working together to organize against the Trump administration. Members of Asian Pacific Environmental Network (APEN) and National Nurses United were among the groups that joined to show their dissent in the protest organized by Bay Resistance.

Although many of the organizations affiliated with Bay Resistance have been around a long time, Bay Resistance is new, created in December 2016 in the wake of Trump’s election. In the first month of Bay Resistance’s creation, 10,000 people signed up for its texting activism hotline. Today there are 15,000. (If you live in the Bay Area, you can sign up to get involved.)

Kimi Lee, director of Bay Rising, one of the 10 organizations of Bay Resistance’s steering committee and one of the four convenors of Bay Resistance, said Bay Resistance is starting to “unite and mobilize unions, community organizations, churches — everyone who was fearful of Trump and what it could do to our communities — for rapid response.”

The result is a growing resistance that is community-based, cohesive and collaborative.

Resist Trump Tuesday

#ResistTrumpTuesday is an initiative started by the Working Families Party to take an action every Tuesday to resist the Trump administration. In communities all over the United States, this movement is building momentum.

The Working Families Party has created an action guide to unify tactics, with this week’s Resist Trump Tuesday goal being to fire Jeff Sessions.

Other grassroots organizations, like Bay Resistance, have been inspired by the movement and have started their own spin-off Resist Trump Tuesdays, with agendas that are critical to local as well as national politics.

Tuesday’s People’s Planet vs. Profits march in downtown Oakland was a good example: The protesters operate on a national level, by standing in solidarity with Standing Rock. Simultaneously, Bay Resistance is seeking to effect change locally, by targeting the Oakland branches of the banks that back the Dakota Pipeline, and Phil Tagami, who backs coal exports. Bay Resistance combats Trump not only on the streets by marching and making their voices heard, and by showing up at city council meetings.

The effectiveness of Bay Resistance lies in the fact that issues of racial, economic, indigenous, social and environmental justice are irretrievably intertwined. Katy Roemer, a registered nurse who protested with a National Nurses United sign, was at the march to raise awareness that the pipeline, climate change and clean water are ultimately public health issues. “I see the the impact on patients,” she told me, an impact that disproportionately impacts poor people and people of color.

What Can You Do Next?

This Friday, stand in solidarity with the ongoing fight at Standing Rock by joining protesters at the Native American March on Washington. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe announced the march at the beginning of February. If you can’t go to Washington, sister marches have sprung up all over the country, including in San Francisco, Buffalo and Los Angeles.

You can also join or create a local branch of the Working Families Party’s #ResistTrumpTuesday day of action. Encourage racial justice organizations you’re already involved in to pledge solidarity. Explore how racial, gender, economic, social and environmental justice movements are intertwined in your city or town, on a local and national level, in order to effectively collaborate with like-minded people and groups.

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