Kalamazoo, MI – Local residents braved a rainy morning and temperatures in the 40’s to hold a 24 hour “Chase Them Out” occupation outside Chase Bank in downtown Kalamazoo beginning at midnight on April 22nd, EarthDay, organized in part by the Michigan Coalition Against Tar Sands (MICATS).
According to a MICATS press advisory, J.P.Morgan Chase owns 4.7 million shares in Enbridge, the energy distribution company responsible for the July 2010 tar sands spill into Talmadge Creek and the Kalamazoo River.
The spill accounts for the largest inland oil spill in history. MICATS hopes to raise awareness of this investment and to encourage people to ‘divest’ their money from Chase Bank during the event.
Activist, Chuck from Kalamazoo, said, “Michigan Coalition Against Tar Sands is a direct action organization of community members, affected residents and local activists working to stop proliferation of tar sands in Michigan and beyond. The connection here is that Chase is invested in Enbridge.”
A Western Michigan University student named Dean, from Auburn Hills, decided to come to the occupation after taking a test to stand in support of it. Dean is involved in an effort by WMU students advocating for University divestment from the fossil fuel industry.
US Senatorial Candidate and Activist, Chris Wahmhoff said, “The significance of this event is that J.P. Morgan Chase is one of the largest owners of Enbridge. They currently own 4.66 million shares of stock in Enbridge Energy”.
Video Courtesy: MICATS
Running against Fred Upton in Michigan’s 6th District, U. S. Senate candidate Paul Clements, said, “Enbridge is running roughshod over property owners, operating in a non-transparent manner, they are messing up people’s lands and not giving people proper compensation and that needs to change and Congress needs to step up to that.”
In 2013, MICATS activisits conducted acts of civil disobedience to protest the construction of an Enbridge’s Line 6B tar sands pipeline. Wahmhoff faced resisting and obstructing charges for skateboarding into the pipeline as a part of the protest. In January, Circuit Judge James Kingsley ruled that Wahmhoff’s case would not go to trial. However, in an order issued last week, Michigan Court of Appeals Judge Joel Hoekstra is reopening the case. A court date is yet to be scheduled.
Activists known as the Enbridge-3 Lisa Leggio, Vicci Hamlin, and Barbara Carter were also arrested on charges related to the Line 6B protest. The Enbridge-3 were sentenced to probation plus time served in jail.
Activists attending the Chase Bank occupation were encouraged to fast during the event, in solidarity with MICATS Activist Jessica Clark who pled guilty to criminal trespass and sentenced on April 16, to 26 days in prison for blocking construction of Enbridge’s Line 6B tar sands pipeline.
“By investing in tar sands they are investing in the dirtiest fuel that we have today and they are investing in something that is increasing carbon emissions at a time when we need to absolutely need to be reducing carbon emissions, said Clements.”
Wahmhoff said, “The whole thing was about local awareness. Everyone we engaged with seemed to be pretty sympathetic or interested in learning more.”