NOC Calls on Minneapolis Public Schools to Divest from Wells Fargo

MN Neighborhoods Organizing for Change (NOC) and a host of North Minneapolis activists yesterday called on Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) to divest money from Wells Fargo Bank, which they say has exacerbated the mortgage foreclosure crisis — especially in hard-luck North Minneapolis — backed anti-tax political candidates, and invested in the prison industrial complex. Speaking at a Minneapolis School Board meeting, the NOC activists called on Minneapolis Public Schools to instead invest money in a community bank such as Bremer Bank.

On Friday at 3 p.m., NOC will team with Minnesotans for a Fair Economy, the AFL-CIO and Occupy MN and march on the banks en masse with demands. The march will follow a concert in Peavey Plaza at 11 a.m.

Outside the School Board meeting yesterday, northside activist Anthony Newby spoke to The UpTake about this particular case of disenfranchisement with a banking behemoth, and how it relates to the broader Occupy Wall Street movement, which has taken the nation by storm this autumn. Watch live videos of Occupy Wall Street demonstrations throughout the country and the world on The UpTake.

Towards the end of the School Board meeting, MPS Board Director Alberto Monserrate addressed NOC’s concerns with this statement (you can watch Monserrate’s comments here):

“The mortgage crisis has devastated thousands of families in Minneapolis and throughout the country, causing great economic hardship, causing thousands of shattered dreams. The mortgage crisis was caused by irresponsible behavior by some of our biggest financial institutions and inadequate regulation by government agencies. The victims of the crisis have been primarily low-income and middle-class families, while most of those guilty for the crisis remain unaccountable for their behavior. The NOC report brings us concern about U.S. Bank and Wells Fargo’s role in the mortgage crisis and Minneapolis Public Schools’ relationship with those banks. Members of the board have engaged our district leadership on this issue and will work on addressing those concerns. …

“I do think the fair thing to do would be to ask U.S. Bank and Wells Fargo questions that we have gotten from our community about their role in the mortgage crisis. It’s important to me that MPS uses vendors that act in the best interest or students, our schools and our community, and that reflect our values. I look forward to hearing U.S. Bank’s and Wells Fargo’s point of view on what happened and answers to those questions. … I look forward to finding out more information that will help us make responsible decisions.”

Jacob Wheeler

In addition to shooting videos for The UpTake, Jacob Wheeler is a contributing editor at the progressive political magazine In These Times, publishes the Glen Arbor Sun in his native Michigan, and authored "Between Light and Shadow," a recent book about the Guatemalan adoption industry. Wheeler's stories have appeared in such magazines as the Utne Reader, Earth Island Journal, Rotarian and Teaching Tolerance magazine, and newspapers including the San Francisco Chronicle and Christian Science Monitor. He speaks fluent Spanish, German and Danish.

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