Yesterday was a national day of action to defund the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). Joshua Taflinger, who has been organizing our local #NoDAPL efforts, is at Standing Rock now, so I created the event above for our local action. Sometimes we meet as a group, as we did last year, but this event was to encourage individuals to close their bank accounts on their own.
This has been much more difficult than I thought it would be. Because of administrative changes, I first had a lot of trouble getting the forms to change my direct deposit of my paycheck to a different bank. I finally got that accomplished about a month ago. But it took time to setup paying bills. Also, I realized the reason I had chosen Chase bank in the first place was because they had the most ATM locations. This was important because I don’t own a car. So there can be major inconveniences from defunding. Fortunately, in this case anyway, our society has made the move to using credit/debit cards instead of cash.
After posting the event, I got a question about whether we were meeting as a group, and I was afraid others might be confused, even with the note on the event page saying we are not gathering. The event page didn’t help matters by requiring a time for the event. I wouldn’t have been able to make a daytime meeting during the work week. But God moves in mysterious ways. I awake with bad migraine headache, and couldn’t make it into work. After sleeping for several hours, I felt a little better. Then I began to think that others might gather downtown, plus I hadn’t, yet, closed my account.
So, I went down to the Circle, in the center of downtown Indianapolis, where the Chase Tower is located, which dominates the Indianapolis skyline. I spent about an hour walking around the Circle with the sign, looking to see if anyone else had shown up. It is a little nerve wracking to be walking around by yourself like that, but, for better or worse, no one looks directly at you or engages you, for the most part.
I was also hoping to get a photo of the sign in front of Chase bank (this was requested as part of the national campaign). When I walked past Bridget, who sits on the Circle every day, crocheting, she asked me what the sign said, and we had a conversation about the importance of protecting our environment. She graciously took several photos for me, including the one above.
I had finally worked up the courage to enter the Chase Bank Tower to close my account. I had no idea what the reaction to entering with my sign would be. I just held it at my side, and then placed it next to my chair as I waited. The bank officer greeted my with a smile and said someone would be with me shortly. He came back after about ten minutes to say he appreciated my patience–it was a busy time.
Mostly people coming into the bank ignored me, but there were a number of glances in my direction.
When I was shown into the banker’s office, she saw my sign, smiled, put her hands together and bowed to me, and said “we are on the same page with this”, and then put her finger to her lips with a smile indicating she shouldn’t be saying that, officially. She was very pleasant and helpful. When I left, she took my hand in both of hers.
As I was walking past the lobby officer when I left, I reached out my hand, which he took in both of his hands, giving me a big smile and a little bow, as well. I told him I appreciated his patience with my freedom of speech, and he smiled and said, “Of course.”
The people at Chase bank could not have been nicer, and I really appreciated that.
My little bit was added to the total defunded:
These photos are from our group gatherings in Indianapolis several months ago for the defunding from Chase and PNC banks in Indianapolis.
This was not my first experience with defunding. In November, 2015, Gilbert Kuhn, a North Meadow Friend (Quaker), Ted Wolner, who teaches at Ball State and is one of the Indianapolis Keystone Pledge of Resistance Action Leaders, and I delivered a petition to the local Morgan Stanley offices, asking them to stop financing coal projects. Shortly thereafter, at the shareholders meeting, they approved stopping such projects.