Wells Fargo shoots down Indigenous People’s Policy at shareholder meeting, will continue funding DAPLTweet
On Tuesday, April 25th, Wells Fargo convened its annual meeting of stockholders at the Sawgrass Marriot in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. Wells Fargo shareholders voted against a proposed Indigenous Peoples Policy, which aimed “to develop and adopt a global policy regarding the rights of indigenous peoples.” Indigenous Environmental Network, Honor the Earth, Mazaska Talks, Women’s Environmental Climate Action Network (WECAN), Last Real Indians, members of the WECAN Indigenous Women’s Delegation to Norway issued a statement condemning Wells Fargo’s Board for recommending shareholders vote against the proposal.
Several Water Protectors protested the shareholder meeting, including representatives from Turtle Island Liberation Now (Florida), San Francisco Defund DAPL Coalition, and UIN #unitedindigenousnations. St. John’s County Sheriffs arrested one of them, Casey Eugene Leydon (Timucua) of Turtle Island Liberation Now after Casey refused to leave the premises. After being released, Casey wrote on his Facebook, “I told Wells Fargo Bank ‘No sir. I will not turn around and go back…I am here for my Lakota Brothers and Sisters and I refuse to go back. I will Stand my ground and Defend the Sacred.’”
Before the votes on the Indigenous People’s Policy and other policies were announced, Robert Taken Alive, a member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Council, asked CEO Tim Sloan and Board Chair Stephen Sanger whether Wells Fargo would divest from the Dakota Access Pipeline. CEO Tim Sloan responded by admitting Wells Fargo would continue to fund the Dakota Access Pipeline and called Dakota Access a “good client.”
Jackie Fielder, founder of the San Francisco Defund DAPL Coalition shamed exiting Wells Fargo shareholders and Board members for continuing to finance the Dakota Access Pipeline. “I’m the product of what happens when you protect the water,” cried Fielder, who is of Miniconjou Lakota and a Hidatsa Waterbuster clan. Major media personnel, shareholders, and hotel staff looked on, some pulling out phones as local sheriffs escorted her out of the hotel. A group of shareholders of color, as well as law enforcement, seemed moved by the action as they shook hands in gratitude with the Water Protectors. Fellow Water Protectors Lev Woolf and Marcos Ramirez put themselves between Fielder and law enforcement and told them to let her speak. The live feed is on San Francisco Defund DAPL Coalition’s Facebook page.
The company released a statement on Tuesday about the Water Protectors:
“As a company committed to environmental sustainability and human rights, Wells Fargo respects the differing opinions being expressed in this dispute. Wells Fargo is one of 17 financial institutions involved in financing the Dakota Access Pipeline, and the loans we have provided represent less than five percent of the total. We remain committed to our obligations to serve our customers’ financial needs, and will continue to be respectful of the concerns being expressed by Tribal governments and communities, other groups, and individuals.”
Seattle and Los Angeles have moved towards divesting $3 billion and $8 billion, respectively, from Wells Fargo for their involvement in the Dakota Access Pipeline, and San Francisco has established a task force on the creation of a municipal public bank to divest $10 billion from Bank of America. This amounts to around $20 billion in West Coast municipal funds being withdrawn from banks financing DAPL.