By Jack Barnes
As basketball fans cheered-on players at the start of game 4 between the Philadelphia 76er’s and the Boston Celtics at the Wells Fargo Center, activists with Philly-based 215 People’s Alliance dropped a banner over the Sixers players tunnel calling attention to the bank’s consumer abuses, destructive business practices, and negative impact on consumers.
The banner read, “Private Prisons, AR-15s, and Toxic Pipelines: Brought to you by Wells Fargo #ForgoWells. GO SIXERS!”
The action follows Wells Fargo’s annual shareholder meeting where progressive organizations rallied and marched demanding that Wells Fargo end its blatant abuses and that shareholders fire its leadership and adopt a consumer-focused agenda. At that same meeting, CEO Tim Sloan received a huge 17 million dollar bonus even as Trump’s CFPB logged a billion dollar fine against the company.
“No fancy ad campaign can distract from the harm Wells Fargo has done to our communities. The bank’s continues to back the NRA, invest in private prisons and has yet to pay restitution to millions of Black and Brown borrowers who were scammed into discriminatory mortgages,” said Angela Peoples, campaign director for the Action Center for Race and Economy. “Tonight’s action should be a signal to Wells Fargo, and any groups associated with it, that we will not stop until we break up this bank and they pay the price for their many sins against students, veterans, Native people, Black, Brown and poor communities.”
Organizers believe that Wells Fargo represents everything that is bad for America. Tonight’s action focused on Wells Fargo’s history of fraud, fueling racism, and funding prisons, pipelines, and pollution. Locally, in Philadelphia, Wells Fargo is responsible for modern-day redlining in the form of discriminatory lending practices against people of color.
“In a city where 22 percent of our families live in food secure homes, Wells Fargo owns a significant number of its mortgages. As a Philadelphia resident, I’ve experienced their discriminatory lending practices on my community,” said Steve Paul, an advocate with the 215 People’s Alliance. “They’ve used our dollars against us, investing in the gun industry, and detention centers that criminalize immigrant communities. We are committed to fighting back. We chose this moment because we love our city and the Sixers, but we’re done with Wells Fargo.”
The action also comes as Well Fargo launched a rebranding campaign to shield their failure to divest from arms dealers in the gun industry and the NRA, private prisons that criminalize people of color and actively advocate for policies that keep their rosters full, and back the destruction of Native lands with the construction and operation of the Dakota Access Pipeline. Efforts to break up Wells Fargo are part of the #ForgoWells campaign, which seeks to hold the bank accountable for its business model that robs communities of their wealth.
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