By Jenny Schlecht
The Dickinson Press
BISMARCK—A petition with celebrity backing is asking people to pull money out of banks that back the Dakota Access Pipeline.
Actress and activist Susan Sarandon on Wednesday started the petition through Care2, an online advocacy site. By Saturday afternoon, it had garnered about 50,000 signatures.
“This is not a partisan issue,” Sarandon said in a statement. “And it’s not enough to just be sending Tweets and posting to Facebook. If we can’t go to North Dakota, we have to put our money where our mouth is and withdraw our money from the big banks that are funding this pipeline. I want my Care2 petition to catalyze a movement to hold the big banks accountable.”
The financial institutions backing DAPL include Bank of America, HSBC, UBS, Goldman Sachs, Wells Fargo, Chase and Citigroup.
According to a post on lastrealindians.com, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe moved in early October to take its money out of Wells Fargo, severing a long relationship with the bank. An Oct. 4 resolution made the move official.
“As free, independent and self-determining Original Nations, we pledge and commit that our national treasuries, financial holdings, bank accounts and other financial interests will be divested and severed from any and all banks, mutual funds, securities companies or other financial entities that invest in, or otherwise financially support, any aspect of the Dakota Access Pipeline project,” the resolution said.
Indigenous climate activist and musician Xiuhtezcatl Martinez said the movement is a way to make a statement, but also a way to pressure banks to stop supporting the companies involved in building the pipeline.
“This is a pressure tactic using the clients of different big banks,” he said.
People who want to help the movement but who cannot go to Standing Rock can make a difference by taking their money from the banks and putting it in local credit unions, Martinez said.
The petition asks people to film themselves withdrawing their money while explaining why they are doing it, then to post the videos on Twitter. Martinez said he’s seen a handful of such videos. Other celebrities have joined the effort.
Martinez called the Dakota Access Pipeline opposition “one of the most important movements of our time” and compared it to civil rights and women’s rights movements.
“This is not just an environmental issue; it’s a human rights issue. By funding this pipeline, these banks are contributing to the violation of basic rights, such as access to clean water and native sovereignty,” he said.