Flood Wall Street West: March. Sit-in. Shut down the Climate Profiteers.
Northern California is being ravaged by climate chaos. Massive drought-fueled wildfires are torching tens of thousands of acres of land and stretching the state’s firefighting capacity to its breaking point. Just this past month, fires in northern California displaced over 23,000 people, destroyed thousands of structures, caused billions of dollars in damage, led to one at least one fatality and left the landscape a smoking ruin.
But it’s not just wildfires. California’s unprecedented, ongoing drought is devastating the state. Farms in the state’s Central Valley have been put out of business; local economies have been devastated and the state has resorted to historic water rationing.
These aren’t natural disasters. People bear much of the responsibility – specific people and institutions with names and addresses, many of them in the San Francisco Bay Area.
The Bay Area is a playground for corporate criminals that profit off of environmental injustice, economic exploitation and oppression. In the East Bay, five of Big Oil’s refineries spew carbon and other pollutants poisoning our communities and scorching the climate. Further East and South, oil and gas companies populate the skyline of the Central Valley with fracking wells.
Chevron, perpetrator of climate, environmental and human rights crimes across California and the world, sprawling world headquarters is safely nestled in the Bay’s affluent suburb of San Ramon.
To the south, tech giants like Google and Facebook perpetrate a new class warfare in the Bay area through gentrification and rising property rates. Homelessness and working class displacement are on the rise, while resources for essential services dwindle away. Furthermore the movement of Silicon Valley north turning San Francisco into a city devoid of culture and diversity.
In the heart of San Francisco is Wall Street of the West, the largest financial district west of the Mississippi. One of the largest banks in the country, headquartered in the financial district, is Wells Fargo, a predatory lender and financial backer of crushing economic inequality and the prison-industrial complex.
Also headquartered in San Francisco is Bank of the West. Bank of the West, a subsidiary of BNP Paribas, is the poster child of climate profiteering. BNP Paribas directly profits off of massive investments in the coal industry while greenwashing its investments in the climate crisis by bankrolling the climate talks in Paris.
Thriving in the shadow of these corporate behemoths are California’s fearsome movements for justice and environmental sanity. From the General Strike in 1934 to the rise of the Black Panthers and the Free Speech Movement in the sixties to Earth First! and Redwood Summer, Bay Area resistance to environmental injustice, economic exploitation and oppression remains strong.
We’re not alone. A little more than a year ago, thousands of us confronted the global financial system in New York City by sitting in and taking direct action at the heart of Wall Street. Now a year later, as people across the continent are fighting for a living wage, storming the police state declaring that "Black Lives Matter" and confronting fossil fuel infrastructure, we’re taking action to call out those profiting from this crisis in the Bay Area.
Wearing blue to represent the sea that surrounds us, we rise in San Francisco’s Financial District, the Wall Street of the West, flooding the area with our bodies in a massive civil disobedience – a collective act of nonviolent civil disobedience – to confront the system that both causes and profits from the crisis that is threatening humanity.
There’s more to come. Flood Wall St. West is the Bay Area kickoff event for #FloodTheSystem, a sustained, continent-wide campaign of direct action in the leadup to the United Nations climate negotiations in Paris this fall. It is a critique of the systems (capitalism, white supremacy, patriarchy) driving the climate crisis while targeting tangible institutions like Big Oil, Big Coal and the banks that love them profiting from it.
There is no time to waste – our economic system must be transformed. Through the power of people taking collective action we will build a future based on justice and sustainability and stop the climate crisis.
Flood the System doesn't end locally with Flood Wall Street West. You can be part of making upcoming actions happen. The next flood is coming.