Demonstrators demand CEO to cease funding of a pipeline project

By Cassie Ordonio

Wells Fargo, one of the largest funders of the controversial $3.8 billion pipeline project in North Dakota, received a three-day prayer from San Francisco protesters.

City College student Cante Tenza Win Goodface led demonstrators on Nov. 9, the first day of the prayer, outside Wells Fargo Headquarters at 420 Montgomery St. Sage wafted through the air as she prayed for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, protesting silently for the sanctuary of sacred land and clean water.

“Water is life!” demonstrators chanted.

Approximately 50 people demonstrated outside the headquarters while protester Karma Yeshe Tarchin played a Youtube video of an activist protesting against Wells Fargo.

For months, the Standing Rock Sioux tribe have been protesting in front of bulldozers. In turn, they have been pepper sprayed, attacked by K-9 police dogs and shot by rubber bullets from authorities.

Seventeen financial institutions have been funding the project. Well Fargo added approximately $467 million.

Demonstrators continued to chant and picket signs until Wells Fargo Vice-President Frank Donahue made his appearance.

One of the demonstrators, Melanie Ramirez, presented Donahue with a letter to appeal to Tim Sloan, the CEO of Wells Fargo.

The letter stated that the bank should cease any funding toward the North Dakota Access Pipeline. Five reasons were given:

  1. The acquirement of land needed for the proposed pipeline route does not respect the property rights of all landowners involved.
  2. The consequences of a leak in the proposed pipeline route will cause irreversible damage to the tribal lands and water sources of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and potentially to others who reside along the proposed route.
  3. This proposed project promotes the use of fossil fuels, which in turn represents disaster for the world’s climate.
  4. The disastrous consequences span far beyond Native Americans in North Dakota, as farmlands throughout the route will be destroyed.
  5. It is simply not a matter of “if” the pipeline leaks, but of when.

When asked about his thoughts on the pipeline project, Donahue declined to comment. However, he informed Ramirez and the crowd that he would present the letter to Sloan the same day.

No further information on Wells Fargo investments toward the project have been reported.

The following days, demonstrators interacted with bystanders and brought together approximately 200 people, including some Wells Fargo customers, to sign the same letter as was given to the Donahue.

Frank Donahue, Vice President of the Wells Fargo headquarters, tells demonstrator, Mealnie Ramierez he will give the CEO, Tim Sloan the letter in opposition of the bank funding the Dakota Access Pipeline Project on Nov. 9, 2016. (Photo by Cassie Ordonio/The Guardsman)
Frank Donahue, Vice President of the Wells Fargo headquarters, tells demonstrator, Mealnie Ramierez he will give the CEO, Tim Sloan the letter in opposition of the bank funding the Dakota Access Pipeline Project on Nov. 9, 2016. (Photo by Cassie Ordonio/The Guardsman)

Enrollment was low due to the protests around the Bay Area against Donald Trump’s presidency.

“Things seem really bleak,” Tarchin said. “To me it wouldn’t matter for either candidate. My only question is: How much pressure can you build against the Trump administration?”