|It may seem as though Americans’ trust of banking institutions has plummeted since the 2008 collapse of the housing bubble and consequent recession, but in fact, the level of confidence in U.S. banks has never been overwhelming. In 1980, just 60% were confident in their own banks, while in 2014, following the Great Recession, nearly one third of that number expressed confidence, at just 21%.
But distrust of big commercial banks runs deeper than poor financial handling, data breaches, and scamming. Some are concerned with banks’ personal interests.
Susan Sarandon, an award-winning American actress and staunch humanitarian, launched an online petition recently, calling for members of Bank of America, HSBC, UBS, Wells Fargo, Chase, and Citibank to withdraw the entirety of their bank accounts and take their business elsewhere until these banks no longer support the Dakota Pipeline.
While supporters of the pipeline have argued that it would decrease foreign oil dependency, opponents are far more focused on the environmental impact that oil drilling would have, in addition to the destruction of sacred Sioux land at the Standing Rock reservation.
The banks singled out in Sarandon’s petition are named in a number of SEC filings as lenders or partners in supporters of the pipeline.
Alan Elias, a spokesperson for Wells Fargo, says that the bank does business “only with companies that have demonstrated a strong, ongoing commitment to complying with all applicable federal, state and local laws and regulations,” yet respects differing opinions regarding the pipeline.
Bank of America spokesperson Kelly Sapp says that the bank is not a lender in the project’s financing, and that it has contributed to Native American communities through a number of initiatives. However, SEC documents show that Bank of America is partnered with Energy Transfer Partners, which is the parent company of Dakota Access LLC.
In the body of the petition, Sarandon wrote:
“The Standing Rock Sioux’s only water source will be endangered by this pipeline. They have put their bodies on the line to stop the construction and defend their water and their way of life. The police brutality in response to their peaceful demonstrations is outrageous, and must not continue.”
The petition calls for all participants to film themselves withdrawing all of their money from the bank while telling a bank representative that they will not return until the bank divests in the Dakota Pipeline. Participants are supposed to then tweet the video, with #BankExit and #NoDAPL, tag all banks in cited above, as well as tag @BarackObama, demanding the sitting president call for an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to put a stop to the destruction and occupation of Standing Rock.
As of Nov. 8, the petition has 66,441 supporters online, just short of its 70,000 goal; however, videos of people actually withdrawing all of their money have yet to be found on Twitter.