Chaos at Citibank, as Global Headquarters Shut Down for Over an Hour, 24 Arrested
30 arrested in 2 days of protests against CitiBank and BlackRock, top financiers of oil and gas, in the lead up to Climate Week
NEW YORK — On Thursday, September 14th, protesters shut down Citibank’s global headquarters, as over 1000 Citi employees were prevented from entering the building for over an hour. Protesters were met by aggression by some Citibank employees, as bankers unable to enter the building packed the surrounding blocks. 25 people were arrested.
This marks a major escalation at Citibank, which protesters have targeted over the past year with rallies, an overnight occupation, and public pressure from Mets fans and elected officials for the team to drop Citi as their stadium sponsor.
On Wednesday, September 13th, climate activists blocked traffic on 10th avenue across from BlackRock, the largest asset manager in the world and top fossil fuel investor. Five people were arrested.
The past two days culminated in a total of 30 arrests at both institutions, highlighting the growing momentum and urgency of the climate movement.
Protestors are calling on BlackRock and Citibank to pull funds from fossil fuel investments and decarbonize their portfolios. New York Communities for Change, one of the organizations leading these protests, has been targeting both banks for months, drawing attention to the corporations’ outsized involvement in exacerbating the climate catastrophe.
“As we choke on wildfire smoke and sweat through September heatwaves, Citibank and BlackRock rake in profits. Ashe world’s biggest financiers of fossil fuels, Citi and BlackRock wield enormous power over the future of our planet. We have exhausted almost every avenue to persuade these billion-dollar companies to divest from fossil fuels. Time is running out. We refuse to stand by as Citi and BlackRock continue to make billions off of the destruction of our environment and communities,” said Alicé Nascimento, Director of Policy at New York Communities for Change.
“The Paris Agreement was supposed to be a pivotal moment in the fight against climate change. But seven years later, we’re hurling more carbon into the atmosphere than ever and still building new oil, gas and coal infrastructure that will lock emissions in for decades. One major reason for this is Citibank. Since 2015, Citi has provided $332 billion to the fossil fuel companies that are undermining the fight against the climate crisis and attacking climate action at every turn. $332 billion is more than the total market share value of Chevron. If Citibank stops funding fossil fuels and starts pouring money into renewables, the impacts will be colossal,” said Alec Connon, Stop the Money Pipeline’s coalition co-director.
“Today is Citibank’s time of reckoning. Citi financed methane plants have made the air unbreathable in my community. They have polluted our land and water, and made utilities so expensive that our families have to choose between food and electricity. Citibank executives think they can hide in their plush offices and high rise buildings, but we’ll be meeting them at their doorstep at any chance we can get. They’ve caused irreparable damage to the ecosystem of the Gulf Coast and we’re here to hold them accountable. It’s time for Citi to stop financing fossil fuels so we all can live,” said Justin Fitch from Healthy Gulf.
Indigenous leaders criticized BlackRock’s role as one of the largest shareholders in the international mining company Rio Tinto, notorious for human rights and environmental abuses.
“BlackRock needs to move off fossil fuels, and as they do, they need to invest in real solutions: that means respecting water and Treaty rights, and not toxic mining projects –that’s Green Colonialism, not a just transition,” said Gina Peltier, an organizer with Honor the Earth.
Charlotte Loonsfoot, from Baraga, Michigan, a member of the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community Ojibwe who was part of a community struggle against Rio Tino’s Eagle Mine, said, “Rio Tinto lied and manipulated and bullied our townspeople, and paid a lot of businesses off. Companies like BlackRock who are financing Rio Tinto need to back out now.“
These protests were part of a larger global movement holding financial institutions accountable for their investments in fossil fuels and expediting the climate crisis. Similar actions are taking place across NYC ahead of the March to End Fossil Fuels on September 17th, emphasizing the growing momentum of climate activism.