On November 5th, an overcast Saturday morning, the group 67 Sueños organized an action at Wells Fargo in Oakland to protest its investment in the nation’s privatized immigrant detention system. As outlined in this helpful flier we created, which can be found on our Resources page, the immigrant detention system is notorious for its abuses. While learning about these abuses was surprising to some people, what has been more surprising is Wells Fargo’s involvement in our nation’s abusive detention system. Wells Fargo invests in the Geo Group the Corrections Corporation of America, two large corporations that run immigration detention centers for a profit. The profits come at the cost of the health and well-being of individuals caught up in detention and deportation system. The health abuses that are especially shocking are the rampant overcrowding, denial of access to medical care, physical, emotional and sexual abuse from guards, as well as the psychological harms of the detention and deportation system. Another reason to protest Wells Fargo has been the foreclosure crisis that has put many people of color out of their homes. Allies from Causa Justa/Just Cause were also at the event and shared information about the damage that foreclosures have had on communities of color. CJ/JC have also partnered with the Alameda County Department of Health to create a report to expose the health impact of foreclosures which include: foregoing medical care, psychological duress, and unhealthy living conditions. This is all to say that Wells Fargo was a worthy target for the Nov. 5th action.
The morning started at Frank Ogawa/Oscar Grant Plaza at 10am to gather momentum, energy and people. Speakers shared personal stories, motivated the crowd and the editors of The Curious Ostrich circulated educational information to participants and those passing by to raise awareness of the issue. Soon the group was large enough and it marched over to the Downtown Oakland branch of Wells Fargo, which is located just a few blocks away. In front of the bank a group of “prisoners” and a “warden” blocked the entrance of the bank, attempting to chain themselves to the door and effectively closing the bank. At the action there were several allies who gave speeches, shared poetry, and even engaged in street theatre. A diverse array of tactics is not only effective in gathering support, but it can also build momentum and energy.
The action on Saturday was a success on many levels. For starters, it achieved its stated goal of shutting down Wells Fargo. The bank was not able to conduct their business as usual. The greater impact was to expand awareness of the abuses that are prevalent throughout the detention system. Many conversations before, during and after the event opened people’s eyes to Wells Fargo’s abusive practices. Wells Fargo executives should take notice that more and more people are consciously choosing where to place their money, and people are saying that they don’t want to be a part of the exploitation of immigrants.
Check out the video below, let us know what you think!
On Edge of Paradise, Coachella Valley workers live in grim conditions, California Watch, 10.24.11
Report by California Watch exposes the mix of toxic chemicals and poor housing conditions that are prevalent in the mostly immigrant community of Coachella, California.
Thousands of Kids taken from Parents in US Deportation System, Colorlines, 11.1.11
Report from Applied Research Center found that over five thousand children across the country are in foster care because their immigrant parents have been detained or deported.
Alabama and South Carolina saw big jumps in the immigrant population before their infamous repressive laws were passed, Multi-America, 11.1.11
New laws are likely a result of the expanded xenophobia as the Latino population in the state rose 145% in Alabama and 148% in South Carolina.
DOJ warns Alabama schools to tread carefully, Politico, 11.2.11
The Dept. of Justice is warning Alabama schools that any denial of schooling to undocumented children or the children of undocumented parents is against the law. Alabama is walking a fine line by discouraging attendance through immigration checks without explicitly denying school to immigrant children.