ShutDownDC forces closure of finance hubs profiteering from climate and migrant crises

  • Jane Fonda’s Fire Drills Friday swarms BlackRock with activists, celebrities and faith leaders

  • People chain to door of Wells Fargo Bank and shut down JP Morgan Chase bank 

  • “We are the fire alarm. You don't yell at the fire alarm for waking you up in the middle of the night when it saves your life”

Washington DC, December 6 – Hundreds of people with #ShutDownDC blockaded the capital’s streets and shut down the banks and investment firms that finance the climate crisis, drive migration and profit from the devastation Friday. 

#ShutDownDC, which closed off traffic to DC in September, targeted Wells Fargo, BlackRock and JP Morgan Chase. These firms are raking in billions of dollars by investing in fossil fuel companies that are destroying traditional lands, polluting waters and pumping millions of pounds of carbon into the atmosphere. 

Now they are making even more money profiteering from the devastating fallout of global heating. The ICE detention facilities these firms finance are incarcerating people who have been forced to leave their home countries because of the drought, floods and ecological collapse that global heating inflicts on them. 

Raegan Davis, organizer with CODEPINK and Shut Down DC, said: “Today we shut down the financial hubs funding climate migration and then profiting from it. These banks, which have made billions of dollars financing the fossil fuel industry, are now profiting from the biggest existential threat of our lifetime. And then they profit from the chaos they are causing by investing in companies that build walls and fund concentration camps. First they drive climate migration, and then they profit from it.”

Around noon, seven people chained themselves to the doors of Wells Fargo Bank, which is the second largest funder of fossil fuels, and used lock boxes to block the entrance. Outside a group of a dozen schoolchildren around eight-years-old marched with megaphones singing, “Climate change has got to go!” 

Wells Fargo, which is the world’s top banker of fracking, has refused to sell its stock in the companies operating the private prisons and detention centers used by ICE. The bank owns more than $19 million in stock in CoreCivic and more than $15 million in stock in Geo Group, the two world's largest operators of private prisons and detention centers.

“We successfully shut down Wells Fargo and drew attention to the fact that they have been funding fossil fuel expansion, propelling the climate crisis, and then profiting off the inhumane consequences by investing in companies that detain migrant children,” said Will Flagle, an organizer with Shut Down DC.

The day began with climate rebels from Extinction Rebellion (XR), activists with the Sunrise Movement and the DC Student Coalition blockading the World Bank’s HQ in downtown DC during the morning rush hour. Santa in a gas mask flanked by skeletons formed mobile one of the mobile blockades as XR surrounded and cut off all traffic to the World Bank. XR Buddhists sat down in the middle of the road outside the World Bank’s main building in honor of the lives and species that are lost every day in the climate crisis. 

The protestors targeted the World Bank because it continues to fund oil, gas and coal projects, fuelling climate breakdown. The Bank says it is changing continues to spend three times more money on fossil fuel projects than renewable energy projects. And it still asserts that natural gas is a transition fuel. The protestors demanded the bank immediately divest from all fossil fuels, including its dirty financing via financial intermediaries.

Hundreds of people then joined Jane Fonda’s Fire Drill Fridays for a rally at Franklin Square before marching at noon through the streets of DC. The protestors swarmed the entrances of BlackRock, the largest investor in new coal plant development and existing coal reserves worldwide, and JP Morgan Chase bank, which is the world’s number one banker of fossil fuels. 

Police blocked the protestors from entering the buildings as protestors carrying banners that read “Climate Emergency” and “Stop Funding Mass Extinction” flooded the streets outside. Seven people locked themselves to the door of Wells Fargo at the intersection of L Street and 13th Street. 

Motorists honked their horns and many shouted support. Responding to a few angry motorists, one protestor clutching a sign that said “Divest Now” said: “We are the fire alarm. You don't yell at the fire alarm for waking you up in the middle of the night when it saves your life.”

#ShutDownDC is taking to the streets as part of the national student-led Youth Climate Strike, which took place today to demand an end to the age of fossil fuels, and a swift and just transition to renewable energy. The day of action also takes place during COP25, where world leaders are deliberating the international response to the climate crisis.