The Seattle City Council has unanimously voted to end the city's relationship with Wells Fargo over the bank's financing of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), its financing of private prison companies, and a regulatory scandal involving the bank's creation of two million unauthorized accounts.
All nine council members voted to take $3 billion of city funds away from the bank after Seattle's current contract expires in 2018. The vote occurred just hours after the Army notified Congress that it will be granting an easement allowing DAPL builders to drill under the Missouri River following a presidential memo from Donald Trump.
"It's going to be a mixed blessing and timely," Matt Remle, a member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe who lobbied the council for the Wells Fargo ordinance, said at the public comment session before today's vote.
Text of Army Corps letter to Congress stating that it will approve easement by tomorrow https://t.co/xp3JF335WT via @NPR #NoDAPL pic.twitter.com/oU0z6gAIx7
— Chris Stearns (@stearnsseattle) February 7, 2017
The council's socially responsible banking ordinance, originally spurred by Remle and introduced by City Council member Kshama Sawant, modifies the city's investment policies and requests that the mayor not renew the city's contract with Wells Fargo in 2018. The legislation—cosponsored by Sawant, Council member Debora Juarez, and Council member Tim Burgess—also requests that the mayor and the city's director of finance and administrative services not make new investments with the bank for a period of three years.
"People say money talks," said Councilmember Debora Juarez, the first Native woman elected to the Seattle City Council. "We say, 'No it doesn't: We do.'"
When reached for comment, a spokesperson for Seattle Mayor Ed Murray said the mayor supports the ordinance and will sign it. After that happens, the city will have to undertake a new process for finding a bank to distribute the city's payroll. The city's options are somewhat limited by state requirements that place a minimum threshold on the size of the banks allowed to do business with the city, but last week, council members asked city staffers to consider supporting the creation of a state bank or a consortium of credit unions to bank with instead.
Last week, more than a thousand miles away from Seattle City Council chambers, the Morton County Sheriff's Office arrested 76 water protectors—and well-respected journalist Jenni Monet—in a raid on a camp set up near a DAPL construction site. Monet, who has reported for PBS News Hour, the Center for Investigative Reporting, Al Jazeera America, PRI, Indian Country Today, and High Country News, was charged with "engaging in a riot" and criminal trespassing by Morton County prosecutors.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Monet and others were "stripped down to [their] long johns" and held for seven hours in metal cages in a Morton County parking garage before being transferred to a cell.