Reverend Billy pressures JP Morgan Chase to stop funding mountaintop removal

Recent Green Party candidate for New York City mayor Reverend Billy has been working with a coalition of activists to pressure JP Morgan Chase to stop financing mountaintop removal mining. Rev. Billy declared victory yesterday in an email to supporters:

JP Morgan Chase Backs Down on Mountaintop Removal!

Reverend Billy and activist-singers succeed in campaign!

Chase bank officials agreed at their annual shareholder meeting to stop underwriting the strip-mining called “Mountaintop Removal (MTR).” Less than two years ago, the bank managed a $690 million bond offering with the top MTR mining company, Massey Energy.

Most environmental orgs, including Rainforest Action Network (RAN) and the Sierra Club, joined citizens’ coalitions, including “Alliance for Appalachia” as well as activists willing to block gates and tree-sit – our friends at “Climate Ground Zero.” RAN pressured the bank from within, buying shares and agitating at annual meetings, including the most recent meeting on May 18, 2010.

In New York, we at the Life After Shopping Church sculpted “mountains in lobbies” in branch banks throughout the city. This is the practice of leaving little peaks of damaged West Virginia mountain soil in front of ATMs with information sheets that describe the impact of MTR.

Our YouTube video of activist-customers closing their accounts while informing bank officers of the cancer, asthma and heart ailments among those who live in the valleys below MTR operations was a hit on the Net.

On Easter Sunday April 4th the “Life After Shopping Gospel Choir” paraded across the East Village with a new mountain for Chase, arriving at the Astor Place branch at about 5 PM.  After leaving the mountain, information and a special letter for CEO Jamie Dimon folded inside a plastic Easter egg, the NYPD arrested Talen for refusing to remove the mountain.

Well, Earth-a-lujah! After losing our election last year we needed a Resurrection.  And we have our mountain songs to sing this summer in our victory lap, with the finale at the West Virginia State Theater on Sat. July 24th.

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Dave Schwab

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