Six protesters from the local “It’s All About The Water” group picketed Wells Fargo Bank last Wednesday afternoon to protest the banks financial involvement in the DAPL pipeline.

John D. Taylor/Hot Springs Star

HOT SPRINGS - Sarah Peterson and six others from the It’s All About the Water group protested Wells Fargo Bank and Citibank’s involvement in the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) project on Wednesday afternoon, Oct. 12, between 4 and 5 p.m.

The group was urging customers who don’t support the bank’s financial support of the the pipeline project to pull their accounts.

“What’s happening up at the Red Warrior camp is exactly what happened in Tiananmen Square, when the students were protesting,” Peterson said. “There is a media black out of it, yet the world is in support of the water protectors.”

“We put down the closedness of Chinese government during Tiananemen Square,” she continued, “yet that’s exactly what’s happening here.”

“How have we allowed that to happen here,” she wondered? “ We’re no better than China or Russia. The U.S. is not being transparent about what’s happening at DAPL. What is happening to us? We’re not allowing freedom of speech, the government is controlling the media outlets to prevent people from knowing what’s going on.”

Peterson bemoaned how federal agencies are dragging their feet on a plan, on a statement to handle this issue, especially protecting and surveying sacred and archeological sites in the path of the pipeline.

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Peterson wants the major media outlets to begin covering the DAPL issue, the Sacred Stone Camp of native water protectors on the Standing Rock Reservation, and what’s happening with the issue.

Responding to the protest, Steven R. Carlson, Vice President of Wells Fargo Corporate Communications said, “While we respect the differing opinions involved in this dispute, Wells does not take positions on public policy issues that do not directly affect our ability to serve our customers or support our team members.”

Carlon noted that Wells Fargo has “…banking relationships with tens of thousands of companies in hundreds of different sectors.”

“We do business only with companies that have demonstrated a strong, ongoing commitment to complying with all laws and regulations. Beyond that, we do not comment on specific customer relationships,” he said.

“The Dakota Access Pipeline project was evaluated by an independent engineer to be compliant with the Equator Principles, a framework adopted by Wells Fargo in 2005 that is designed to determine, assess, and manage social and environmental risks and impacts of projects,” Carlson noted. “As a signatory, Wells Fargo provides loans and advisory services only to those projects whose borrowers can demonstrate their ability and willingness to comply with the Equator Principles’ requirements for categorizing, assessing, and managing environmental and social risks.”

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