PORT TOWNSEND — More than 30 people protested along Sims Way in Port Townsend on Saturday, urging people to divest their money from Wells Fargo and Chase banks due to the banks’ connections to the recently revived Dakota Access Pipeline.
The protesters were a staple outside of the Port Townsend Wells Fargo Bank through November and December. The protests subsided after a Dec. 4 order from then-President Barack Obama that halted construction on the pipeline on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota.
The protests are back in full swing due to an executive order from President Donald Trump and an easement granted Feb. 7 by Robert Speer, acting secretary of the Army. The decision allowed for the termination of a notice of intent to perform an environmental impact statement.
“Energy is still pretty high,” said Sabrina Hill, a member of the Makah Tribe who joined in the protest.
“Until they start pumping oil through that pipeline, we still have faith that our actions can do something.”
Wells Fargo and JPMorgan Chase are among banking institutions that have provided credit for the Energy Transfer Partners project. The pipeline sparked protests — joined by thousands — from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, which said it could pollute groundwater and surface water.
Saturday’s protesters lined Sims Way near its intersection with Kearney Street, waved at cars and handed out information.
“We’re just here to tell people to take your money out of the big banks and support local ones,” Hill said. “These big banks support things like the pipeline, and people just need to keep paying attention.”
Hill is also the organizer behind a planned return trip to the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. Roughly 20 residents of Jefferson County, many of whom went to the reservation to protest over Thanksgiving week, hope to return to help clean up the camp area that hosted thousands just a few months ago.
“The goal with this trip is to clean up before the floods come,” Hill said.
The trip is planned for Feb. 24. The group will host a fundraiser from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. this Saturday in hopes of raising $10,000 to fund supplies and transportation costs. Admission will be free. Donations will be accepted.
The fundraiser at Trinity United Methodist Church, 609 Taylor St., will include a slideshow of the Thanksgiving trip, speeches by those who traveled to Standing Rock in November and a silent auction. Hill will sell bandanas designed by Micah McCarthy of the Makah Tribe for $25.
“People just need to continue to follow this since it’s not getting the coverage it once did,” Hill said. “If you’re not following specific people, you’re going to miss out on a lot of information.”
Jefferson County Editor/Reporter Cydney McFarland can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 55052, or at [email protected].