Faith leaders, labor unions, community activists, immigrants protest the bank’s policies and demand action
Minneapolis– Hundreds of Minnesota’s Somali and Latino communities gathered at Wells Fargo Center downtown to close their accounts in response to the bank’s continued policies which harm Minnesota immigrants and their families. The “Move Your Money Day” protest was held as part of Minnesotans for a Fair Economy’s 99% Spring Week of Action, a week-long series of events which culminated today.
Somali community members have been working to find a solution to the ongoing funds transfer crisis facing their families since late last year. At that time, the lifeline, which supported loved ones in the East Africa country that has been ravaged by famine, drought and violence was terminated. Wells Fargo, one of America’s largest financial institutions, has not been willing to work with the community in finding a solution.
Today, hundreds came to the bank, hoping to close their Wells Fargo accounts. This event was the result of a deadline being reached in the campaign to restore the Somali lifeline. At a community meeting on March 3, leaders set a deadline for today for a solution to be reached in order to avoid a massive movement of account closures, which is now underway.
Ibrahim Nur is a community activist who has worked closely with the community over the past few months and was part of the team that organized today’s event. “For five months, our community has stood on street corners, rallied at the State Capitol and protested in front of bank branches,” Nur said. “Yet, Wells Fargo has locked their doors to us. Today, we stand up for our community and our loved ones. Today, we say with a unified voice that we can’t wait any longer. Today we have come to move our money.”
Wells Fargo, which markets heavily to immigrant communities—including the large immigrant Latino community in Minnesota—is also helping bankroll a for-profit prison system that affects the same group in an unfair way. Activists say the harm doesn’t end there.
Mutual funds run by Wells Fargo have invested in companies, such as GEO Group and Corrections Corporation of America, which operate a for-profit prison system that incarcerates immigrants. In addition, Wells Fargo has targeted immigrant communities with high-interest subprime mortgages that helped drive the high rates of foreclosure that are devastating these communities.
Members of both communities are urging Minnesotans—especially immigrants and New Americans—to take their business elsewhere. More than 1,000 Latino and Somali Minnesotans have signed a pledge to do just that.
Fanny Fonseca is a Latino community activist and SEIU Local 26 member. “As an immigrant, I am very surprised that Wells Fargo, the bank where I trust my money, has invested in Private Prison companies, like CCA,” Fonesca said. “These companies have pushed for SB1070 in Arizona, a law designed to incarcerate immigrants and make money for the prison companies. The Latino community will not work with banks that don’t help our community, and because of that, I am closing my account today at Wells Fargo.”
This event was organized by the Somali Action Alliance, SEIU Local 26 and other allied partners; with support from Minnesotans for a Fair Economy.