Seattle City Council Committee Votes to Divest From Pro-DAPL Bank

The crowd outside Seattle City Hall on Wednesday. (Valerie Costa / Twitter)

The fight over the Dakota Access pipeline is ramping up yet again.

Early Wednesday, the Seattle City Council Finance Committee voted to divest $3 billion from Wells Fargo after grass-roots activist movement Injustice Boycott petitioned council members via social media.

“Wells Fargo is a primary backer not only of the Dakota Access Pipeline, but of private prisons and so much other ugliness,” Shaun King, one of the founders of Injustice Boycott, wrote in an email to supporters Tuesday. “We need to do everything we can to make sure this happens. We need to show Wells Fargo that we will NOT stand for injustice.”

Council Bill 118883 was proposed by Kshama Sawant, the only socialist member currently sitting on Seattle’s City Council.

“If Seattle divests from Wells Fargo, it will greatly fuel the inspiring nationwide struggle against the Dakota Access pipeline and the oil lobby,” Sawant said at a rally prior to Wednesday’s vote. “I urge council members to support this legislation as part of Seattle’s fightback against Trump and the billionaire class.”

The legislation passed the finance committee Wednesday and, according to Sawant, will go to Seattle’s full City Council for a vote on Feb. 6. Still, many saw Wednesday’s vote as a decisive victory.

King, for one, celebrated the news of the committee’s decision on Twitter:

The committee vote was streamed live on Facebook. The video showed crowds of activists at Seattle’s City Hall, holding signs against the DAPL and chanting “Water is life.”

While Wednesday’s vote is a big first step for #NoDAPL activists, they face an uphill battle. Late Tuesday, news broke that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was gearing up to resume the easement process, which would pave the way for construction to begin.

The Bismarck Tribune reports:

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is expected to grant Dakota Access Pipeline its final easement to cross the Missouri River within “days not weeks,” according to the office of Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D.

Hoeven said Acting Secretary of the Army Robert Speer has directed the Corps to proceed with an easement for the completion of the 1,172-mile crude oil pipeline. An environmental impact statement, which opponents of the pipeline had argued in favor of, is not likely to take place, said Don Canton, a spokesman for the senator.

“They’re just making sure they’ve got their ducks in row, and then they will likely approve the easement,” Canton said.

With this imposing timeline in mind, Injustice Boycott has begun promoting the Twitter hashtag “#StartWithSeattle” as a way to encourage other local governments to divest from pro-pipeline companies.

“What we will do now is begin to duplicate this victory from Seattle and use it as a template for how we make change happen in cities across the country,” King wrote in a Wednesday email to Injustice Boycott supporters. “Listen, what we are doing is working!”

Emma Niles
Assistant Editor
Emma Niles, an assistant editor at Truthdig, graduated from the University of California, Santa Cruz, with a degree in political science. She has worked for the National Women’s Law Center and Ms. Magazine.…
Emma Niles

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