Activists say the end goal of the divestment movement is Public Banking

Divest LA

Divest LA. Photo courtesy Medium.


The Public Banking movement currently is being empowered by communities who've insisted their governments stop banking with the financial institutions behind fossil fuel-driven barbarism such as the attacks on peaceful water protectors at Standing Rock. After every divestment victory, however, a critical problem presents itself: finding an acceptable alternative.

Seattle, for example, voted unanimously to divest from Wells Fargo in February 2017, but after realizing virtually all big banks are funders of DAPL and, curiously, no other bank wanted to participate and bid for the city’s services, Seattle last week was forced to sign on for another three years with Wells.

Two recent articles in Medium and In These Times expand on activists’ well-founded conclusion: we must build our own Public Banks.

Matt Remle, who lives in Seattle and is a member of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, explains how the encampment effort led to his forming the group Mazaska Talks and to the idea of a Public Bank:

“We know that as a city or as a tribe, when we are banking with a Wells Fargo or Chase or Bank of America, that money isn’t being reinvested back into our communities. We are very clear when we are pushing our banking ordinance that it’s not a victory to jump from one Wall Street bank to another. Our ultimate goal for Seattle is to take our money completely out of there and have control over our own finances.”

Phoenix Goodman describes how the Divest LA movement realized it must form Public Bank LA.

“For a city to create its own public bank owned by the People and accountable directly to them, is to create an entirely new financial system on the People’s terms, which is the logical end-game of divestment. …

“By bringing banking under public control, so that the bankers that have the responsibility over our financial sector are accountable public servants rather than private casino gamblers, we can finally make progress towards a system that is legitimately, rather than superficially democratic.”

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