In a huge win for Divest LA and environmental and social justice allies, the City of Los Angeles voted unanimously on Wednesday to approve a banking contract that would disqualify Wells Fargo from providing commercial banking services to the City. Wells Fargo will be effectively blocked from bidding on the upcoming contract for not meeting the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) requirements. The City will also adopt a new 30-point Social Responsibility scoring system for all banks, making this the most progressive Request for Proposal contract in the nation.
The Divest LA grassroots campaign was initiated in February 2017 to advocate for LA City Council to withdraw its public funds from Wells Fargo for their long history of consumer fraud, corruption, and unethical corporate practices. This includes investing in destructive fossil fuel projects like the Dakota Access Pipeline, which violates the rights of the Standing Rock Sioux and threatens the water and lands along its path.
In just 9 months, we took on one of the largest and most powerful banks in the country… and won.
The Divest LA campaign is a true testament to people-power in action. To transform our local government on a deep, systemic level, we must learn to out-organize oppressive mega-corporations. Divest LA was not merely about opposing extractive banks and fossil fuel companies. We drafted policies to amend existing banking contracts, we lobbied as citizens and we packed City Council and Committee meetings for months delivering public comment. Divest LA gathered the support of Neighborhood Councils across the City, representing the voices of over 400,000 Los Angeles resident stakeholders. We built alliances with Councilmembers, staffers and City departments, and maneuvered through the legislative system to redirect public funds into ethical financial institutions responsive to the needs of the people.
We would like to express our deep gratitude to our incredible team, our allies, supporters, members of the community who have rallied alongside us on this critical mission throughout this past year. We hope this win inspires grassroots activists and organizations around the country. With coordinated public pressure and a solution-focused agenda, people power is a transformational force.
This is the evolution of revolution: innovating legislative solutions to create the society we want and need. And this is only the beginning… the fight continues!
Up next we are launching the Responsible Investment Ordinance to guide the City of Los Angeles’ $1.3 billion investment portfolio into socially and environmentally responsible holdings. And get ready for the Public Bank LA campaign – the ULTIMATE divestment is for the City to divest from ALL Wall Street banks by creating a publicly-owned city bank!
It is time for the people to rise up and take our communities, cities, states and nation back from the oligarchy, and put them back into the hands of the people. Rise and stand together for the people and the planet!
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