Why is ‘Mr. Monopoly’ hanging out in front of Chase Bank? What’s an oil pipeline doing on Yamhill Street? Do I hear ukuleles and singing?
It’s May 7th, the nationwide Day of Action to Shut Down Chase, taking place just one week ahead of Chase’s annual shareholder meeting on May 15th. The 350PDX Divestment/Reinvestment (D/R) and Fossil Fuel Resistance (FFR) Teams are gathered in downtown Portland, across from Pioneer Square. The infamous Ukulele ‘Mob’ is strumming and singing songs denouncing Chase Bank practices. Activists are chanting, handing out leaflets spelling out the climate crimes of JPMorgan Chase, and asking Chase Bank customers to ‘Move Your Money!’ and ‘Cut up your Chase Credit Card!’
Chase customers were chagrined to learn that JPMorgan Chase is the top funder of extreme fossil fuels on Wall Street, increasing its investments in tar sands, coal, and gas by over $4 billion last yea. It’s the only US bank funding construction of the proposed Jordan Cove pipeline and export terminal in Southern Oregon.
Moving Your Money is a powerful action that everyone can take — you don’t need to have lots of money to have an impact! Every closed account is a message to JPMorgan Chase that they need to change their ways and join three of the world’s biggest financial institutions — the World Bank, ING, and AXA — who have announced plans to divest from coal, oil, and gas.
Juan, who works at a nearby juice bar, told Jennifer Jones, of the D/R Team, that he banks at Chase and was alarmed to learn that they were funding projects he’s fundamentally opposed to. He had considered moving to a credit union before but, after learning that Chase funds fossil fuel pipelines, he signed the pledge to ‘Move His Money,’ understanding that no amount of money is too small to make a meaningful statement.
Serious business, but we had fun too! Melanie Plaut, of the FFR Team, wrote catchy lyrics to ‘Roll Out the Barrel’ and ‘Car 54 Where Are You?’ (JPMorgan Chase how dare you?) and recruited her Ukulele ‘Mob’ as accompanists. Arts Team co-lead Donna Murphy built a paper mache mask of Mr. Monopoly. Paul Millius, the man who wore the mask, was a good sport, having to put up with no peripheral vision–perhaps fitting since the ‘men with the money’ seem unable to see the damage their investments are doing to the planet!
Our action was over the lunch hour while many people were coming to the bank and its outside ATM, waiting at the MAX stop across the street, or walking down Yamhill to shop or lunch. The Uke ‘Mob’ repeated their concerts for new audiences in between speakers and chants. We handed out about 300 of our informational flyers. Jennifer Jones and Edie Gillis each built a shiny, black pipeline for the occasion. Jennifer, Sandy, and Taryn and her daughter Phoebe painted picket signs with Chase and Move Your Money themes.
Anthony Mascorro, a KBOO reporter, was filming and interviewing and provided us with a great video. The KATU cameraman filmed the action from the MAX stop where he interviewed one of our speakers, Clackamas Team co-lead, Michael Hall. Michael had a brief but eloquent clip on the TV news later in the day. Also speaking were Gail Cordell, Jenifer Schramm, Melanie Rios, and Deborah Romerein.
Thanks to Artist Gabriel Liston for his lovely drawing, to all of the organizers of this event — Taryn Oakley, Susan Gere, Jenifer Schramm, Jennifer Jones, Gail Cordell, Melanie Plaut and Sandy Polishuk — the Uke ‘Mob’ and everyone who turned out to hold signs, sing, talk to Chase customers and passerbys, and provide a critical mass.
Written by: Sandy Polishuk with Taryn Oakley, Jenifer Schramm, and Jennifer Jones