Summer of Heat: Over 60 Arrested at Climate Activists Converge on Citibank

Sixty people were arrested as over 1,000 climate change activists marched to Citibank HQ in Tribeca on June 28 to protest against big banks and Wall Street funding fossil fuels development.

| 28 Jun 2024 | 07:16

Climate protesters converged on Citibank’s headquarters to protest against Wall Street’s funding of fossil fuels. Climate groups have been targeting Wall Street banks including Bank of America, Deutsche, CitiGroup in what organizers are called the “Summer of Heat” campaign

More than 1,000 people gathered in Zuccotti Park and marched to Citigroup headquarters.

Many of the Climate protest leaders were from the Gulf of Mexico states including Louisiana, Texas, and Alabama where protest organizers said fossil fuel projects have been causing devastating health issues, especially in Black and Brown communities.

“They’re really messing with our habitats,” Manning Rollerson, C.E.O. of the Freeport Haven Project, based in Texas told to Our Town Downtown. “Displacing everybody along the coast, just for profit, right? We have issues with cancer, heart disease, brain cancer, and diabetes, and the biggest issue is poverty. So these banks that finance corporations say they want the global economy, but where do we fit in the global economy?

He continued, “So we came to the city to say ‘Enough is enough’.” Because at the end of the day, who are they helping? They’re supposed to be a Family Bank right? Well, how can you be a family bank, if you’re funding something that’s hurting families?” he asked.

Organizers say the projects from petro-chemical industry have been known to emit harmful pollutants, leading to high rates of respiratory issues and cancer, contamination of water and soil, and lowering of property values in the South. They often displace residents, fragment communities, and offer minimal economic benefits to locals, protestors said.

Additionally, these communities face inadequate regulatory protection and lack of representation in environmental decision-making, exacerbating their vulnerability to these harmful impacts.

Protesting in front of the Bank’s headquarters in Lower Manhattan, activists held signs reading “Our love for our community is stronger than your love for profits”.

While many of the climate protest leaders were from the South, there were many advocates from New York State and City climate activist groups.

Taylor Holbrook, a retired pastor from Hudson Valley told Our Town Downtown that “Citycorp was the second largest fossil fuel funder in the world”

Holbrook, a member of the Third Act environmental organization, which is “really people over 60 in the third act of life, retired and who have the resources to try and make the world a better place” highlighted a critical issue.

“There’s an area called Cancer Alley in Louisiana that has just been decimated and sacrificed. Fortunately, the LNG plant that was going in for liquefied petroleum gas was stopped by the Biden administration. But still, there’s just carnage along the coast. You know, horrible environmental problems that have been killing some of the folks there”, said Holbrook to Our Town Downtown.

Holbrook highlighted another crucial issue about how homeowners from the Gulf Coast don’t easily obtain home insurance.

“Global warming issues, such as obtaining homeowners insurance, are particularly challenging for people on the Gulf Coast who are frequently decimated by hurricanes and similar problems. When climate disasters strike, corporations receive funding and quick recovery support from Citi Corp allowing them to resume operations promptly. These same corporations are often responsible for the pollution in the area. In contrast, individuals, especially those in Black and Brown communities, struggle to get the necessary support and funding to rebuild their homes and lives after such disasters” said Holbrook to Our Town Downtown.

On a personal note though, Holbrook was out protesting as a means to safeguard his grandchildren’s future.

“I’m out here for my grandkids you know, I have five of them and I’m gonna have six soon and you know when I think of the World they’re going to inherit, I got to do something to not let it be destroyed or not let them be destroyed,” said Holbrook to Our Town Downtown.

Organizers stated that their intention was not to incite violence; however, a group of participants were stationed to block the building’s entrances.

The NYPD, along with Citigroup’s security personnel, were present to assist employees in entering and exiting the premises.

Police arrested 61 protesters on Friday, with charges pending, while two people were given summonses, according to the New York City Police Department.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Citi released the following statement:

“Citi welcomes continued engagement with our stakeholders and we are transparent about our climate-related activities. We are supporting the transition to a low-carbon economy through our net zero commitments and our $1 trillion sustainable finance goal. Our approach reflects the need to transition while also continuing to meet global energy needs.”