PGND Chase Bank Protest Speech

Marc Silberman

This is a transcript of a speech Marc Silberman gave at the October 1 action in front of the Chase Bank on the Capitol Square. The demonstration was organized by a coalition of 4 groups: People’s Green New Deal of DSA, Sierra Club, Wisconsin 350, and Building Unity. Marc spoke on behalf of the People’s Green New Deal.

This bank is stealing our future. Our children’s future.

This bank is a climate crime scene.

JP Morgan Chase Bank is the largest financer of fossil fuel companies in the world. Since the Paris Agreement was signed, Chase has provided $268 billion in financing to fossil fuel companies. Chase has loaned more to coal companies and companies expanding fossil fuel operations than any other bank on Earth. Chase is also the largest backer of tar sands. It is the major backer of Line 5, with 540 thousand barrels of tar sands oil a day. Tar sands oil is the dirtiest oil in the world. A climate time bomb. We are here today to call out Chase. To say, “No more!”

To say no to Chase-financed Enbridge, and no to Line 5. Enbridge has a long violent, arrogant, and dangerous track record that speaks for itself. In its dealing with the Bad River Band of the Lake Superior Chippewa, Enbridge has ignored indigenous sovereignty and treaty rights, and its actions threaten the fragile and sacred waters of the great north. In truth, Line 5 threatens us all and must be shut down.

We are facing an existential crisis with climate change. We are in a climate emergency, meaning that climate change is an urgent threat to the well-being of people and all living things worldwide and must be addressed immediately. This crisis threatens the very underpinnings of our civilization. Large segments of the planet will simply be uninhabitable. We are in the sixth great extinction, with rates of extinction 1000 times higher than background rates. The UN warns of mass dislocation in 30 years; up to 1.2 billion refugees due to extreme weather events, rising seas, famine, and war.

Already this year we have witnessed unprecedented climate disasters, heatwaves, drought, floods, and fires. This year 33 million human beings were dislocated in Pakistan due to unprecedented flooding. At this moment we have Hurricane Ian. This is climate disaster, climate chaos! Today we are calling out those responsible. This is an enormous social justice issue. The people who are most affected by climate change and who will be most affected in the future are the poor and communities of color here in the United States and worldwide. These are also people who have contributed the least to the emissions that are causing warming.

Imagine the level of human suffering and stress on remaining social and governmental bodies with the dislocation of over a billion people. This will simply change everything as we know it. I fear that much of the global response will be some form of authoritarian fascism. The climate disaster will bring fascism. We already are seeing this. Fascist parties elected in Sweden and Italy on anti-immigrant and refugee platforms. The Trumpist platform of fear-mongering and hate.

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres said it well: “Nations need to move away much faster from fossil fuels for humankind to retain any hope of preventing a perilous future on an overheated planet. This is a climate emergency. Delay means death. We have an obligation to act.”

As members of the PGND and DSA we recognize that the crisis of climate change is not something that is inevitable or naturally occurring; rather, it is the result of the system that prioritizes private corporate profits over the well-being of all. We recognize that only organized people can defeat corporate-organized money.

Columbian President Gustavo Petro recently told the UN: “Climate disaster will kill hundreds of millions of people. It is not produced by the planet, it is produced by capital. The cause of the climate disaster is capital: the logic of relating to one another to consume more and more to produce more and more so that a few can earn more and more is what produces the climate disaster. The expanded accumulation of capital is an expanded accumulation of death.”

Climate chaos: from greed and an addiction to power and materialism, to expansion and exploitation, this madness in the face of known science is financed and made possible by Chase and other institutions of global finance.

We demand system change not climate change!

We are here to demand a future for ourselves, our children, and all living sentient beings. To say, “No more!” We must dismantle this machinery of death. Every day we must wake and dedicate ourselves to stopping it here and now. We may not be successful but doing this work is to be human. It is the right thing. We must stop the money pipeline now. In Wisconsin, one of the most immediate and strategic things we can do is stop Line 5.

No more madness. No to Chase. No to Line 5. Yes to life and living in harmony with the natural world. A world that we are not separate from, but a part of. May we all be water protectors. May our actions today be in service of 7 generations hence. Thank you for being here.

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