Divest our tax dollars from fossil fuels, private prisons

by Marina Smerling, Divest Gainesville

The divestment movement across the country is growing. In city after city, the people are asking their city officials to take note: it’s time to divest our public money from fossil fuels, private prisons, and the disenfranchisement of Native peoples that allowed the Dakota Access Pipeline to be approved at Standing Rock.

Earlier this year, Native organizers in the wake of Dakota Access re-energized the divestment and boycott movements ignited by civil rights activists decades ago, calling on our cities to pull their funds from the banks that fail our public values by funding pipelines and private prison and detention centers. In Seattle, organizers successfully campaigned for Seattle to withdraw its $3 billion in funds from Wells Fargo. Davis and Santa Monica, California, followed suit, and similar campaigns are now underway in numerous cities across the country.

Here in Gainesville, our city has approximately $120 million in public funds, which are held primarily with SunTrust Bank.

SunTrust is one of the 17 banks that directly funded the Dakota Access Pipeline.

SunTrust indirectly funds Sabal Trail Pipeline in our own backyard.

SunTrust, along with five other major banks in this country, funds GeoGroup and CoreCivic (formerly Corrections Corporation of America), the two largest private prison and private detention center corporations in the world. Private prisons are responsible for locking up nearly 20% of federal inmates in this country, creating a financial incentive for the widespread incarceration of poor people and people of color that is devastating communities across the nation.

SunTrustDivest Gainesville came together this summer to respond to the Native-led call for individual and municipal divestment. We are honored to have recently received sponsorship from the ACLC.

As the Native divestment movement in this country says, “Mazaska talks” (money talks), and indeed, it is the only thing that will have vested corporate interests listen.

The time for a change in how we invest our tax dollars has come.  That time is now.  Let’s move our public money out of the institutions that our destroying our communities and our planet, and into life-serving and life-preserving institutions that reflect our love of justice, sustainability, and a world that works for all of us.

Want to see Gainesville divest from fossil fuels and private prisons?

Sign our petition at http://tinyurl.com/divest-gainesville. For more information, contact DivestGainesville@gmail.com.

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