Rising Tide Boston to Bank of America: We're Still Breaking Up With You!

By Alysha Suley

Rising Tide Boston is part of a network of groups and individuals working to confront the root causes of climate change by promoting local, community-based solutions. We recognize that in order to confront the climate crisis, we must first expose the intersections between the oppression of humans and the exploitation of the earth.

In conjunction with the growing national movement against the coal industry and coal investment, as well as other struggles, Rising Tide Boston has kept the pressure on Bank of America. In the span of five weeks, we held three separate actions utilizing protest, street theater, satire and civil disobedience at Citibank and Bank of America locations in Boston. Rising Tide Boston has announced its intentions to continue pressuring Bank of America to drop its support of and involvement in the coal industry by publicly "breaking up" with the bank this Valentine's Day.

On October 7, Rising Tide Boston, Rainforest Action Network (RAN) and City Life/Vida Urbana, a well established tenants’ rights organization in Boston, held a rally at Bank of America in Harvard Square. The message to the banks was "Not With Our Money" should they continue to fund coal or continue their ongoing evictions in our community. We then marched around the corner to where four climate justice activists had locked themselves to Citibank's front doors. This action sparked a “Not With Our Money” mantra across the U.S. at bank protests and formed a strong bond of solidarity between climate justice and social justice movements and organizations in Boston. On Halloween, a crowd of "zombies" visited several Bank of America and Citibank locations to remind them that "coal is killing us." Although police and security officials frowned upon the mass of undead, the Boston community showed strong support.

Then, as part of a National Day of Action against coal financing, Rising Tide Boston set up "Green Coal" marketing tables outside branches of Bank of America and Citibank. We handed out free gifts of "clean coal" to passersby expressing interest in helping to fund climate change, and to those patrons of the banks who said they already had “environmental destruction” accounts. We felt an immense sense of accomplishment at becoming the first research group to find a way to truly make coal clean and green (we washed it in the sink and then painted it) – until one onlooker pointed out the black coal dust on our hands (despite its cleanliness!).

The purpose of these actions was to draw attention to the myths and lies that enable reformist green capitalists to keep the coal industry alive and profitable. Ironically, Bank of America released its new "Coal Policy" in the last week of November. This so-called "policy" has been "praised" by RAN and other groups and considered a victory for communities in coal-mining regions in Appalachia. But we in Rising Tide Boston see through the smokescreen of this PR gimmick intended to distract the public from Bank of America's ongoing funding of the coal industry.

The statement fails to commit to a timeline or any concrete action to halt their financing of mountain-top-removal coal mining, and the alternatives that the bank pledges to support are not solutions at all. On the other hand, the release of the statement shows that Bank of America has been feeling the heat of direct actions across the country – enough to release a statement intended to, perhaps, keep us happy. Unfortunately for them, we still have plenty of energy (generated without the use of coal) in our organizations to continue pressuring the banks until they finally meet the people’s demands.

This Valentine's Day, join Rising Tide Boston, City Life/Vida Urbana and groups around the country in "breaking up" with Bank of America by closing our accounts. With this gesture, we will demand that Bank of America stop financing the coal industry and enforcing post-foreclosure evictions.

Table of Contents