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9 Arrested Occupying Wells Fargo, Protesting For-Profit Prisons
High-res photos available at: http://www.pcasc.net/2011/11/17/occupywellsfargo/
Portland, OR – 9 activists with the Portland Central America Solidarity Committee (PCASC) were arrested today disrupting business as usual at the Wells Fargo Bank inside the Standard Insurance Building. The group targeted Wells Fargo in response to the bank’s funding of private prisons and immigrant detention centers, and their connections with right-wing think tanks that push legislation to criminalize immigrants, such as Arizona’s SB1070 law.
The group also staged a street theatre performance outside the bank, which was supported by the N17 “Occupy the Banks” march of around 1,000 people. Wells Fargo has a large stake in firms, such as Geo Group and Corrections Corporation of America, which are major players in for-profit incarceration. The investments serve to enrich the banks while the 99 percent are the ones who fill prisons, the activists said.
“The profit motive compels Geo Group and others to fill these prisons, which in turn creates lobbying pressure on politicians, which leads to racist drug and immigration laws and the largest prison population in the world,” said Allen Hines, who participated in the action.
The number of beds in private detention centers used by Immigration and Customs Enforcement alone has increased 400% since 1994, according to the North American Congress on Latin America. Meanwhile, people of color continue to make up a much higher proportion of the ballooning prison population than is representative of broader society.
The activists’ demands were:
- Wells Fargo must divest from the prison industry.
- The private prison industry – which creates financial incentives for putting people in jail – must be dismantled.
- Politicians must refuse money from prison lobbyists.
As part of the 99 percent, the group says they have several reasons to be angry with the policies of Wells Fargo. In addition to the bank’s funding of prisons, its acquisition of Wachovia, which engaged in money laundering on behalf of Mexican drug cartels, puts Wells Fargo at odds with advocates for peace and freedom.
The people involved in today’s action said they want Wells Fargo and its shareholders to better understand the negative consequences of its drive for profits. While the bank may have some work to do to become a people-friendly business, they said, another world is possible.
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