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On Leap Day, Texas protesters to tell Wells Fargo to leap out of private prison investments

Tomorrow, I'll participate in an Austin protest at the Wells Fargo near the University of Texas as a part of a state-wide day of action urging the bank to divest from private prison corporations GEO Group and Corrections Corporation of America.  Here's a description of the event:

"On this Leap Day, a coalition of immigrant rights, human rights, faith, and student organizations will hold a protest at Wells Fargo on 24th and Guadalupe in Austin in conjunction with a statewide day of action calling on Wells Fargo to divest its holdings in the for-profit private prison industry.  The private prison industry profits greatly from the detention of immigrants.  More than 33,000 immigrants are detained every day in the United States, destroying families and costing taxpayers more than $1.7 billion this year.

According to SEC filings, Wells Fargo currently holds over 4 million shares in GEO Group and 50,000 shares in Corrections Corporation of America, with a combined value of $120 million.  GEO and CCA are the world’s two largest private prison corporations. Wells Fargo, a recipient of billions of bailout dollars, is a major contributor to politicians who have championed the increased incarceration of immigrants. The protest will call on Wells Fargo to invest in our communities and divest from the private prison industry."

The Austin protest is part of a state-wide day of action that includes protests by Students United for the Dream Act in San Antonio and a protest of the 287(g) immigration enforcement program and the private prison industry in Houston.   Here is a list of times and locations:

Austin: 3:30-4:30pm, Wells Fargo, Guadalupe & 24th

San Antonio: 3:00-5:00pm 423 N New Braunfels Ave. 78202

Houston: 12:00-1:00pm Wells Fargo, Louisiana & Lamar St

An event is also being organized in Dallas later in the week, I'm told.  The protests are part of a national prison divesment campaign launched last year.  We'll post some pictures of the protests later in the week.

Austin protestors target Wells Fargo private prison investments

On Tuesday, I participated in an Austin protest against Wells Fargo's holdings in private prison corporations GEO Group and Corrections Corporation of America.  The coalition of immigrant rights groups (including Grassroots Leadership and Texans United for Families) called on Wells Fargo to divest of their holdings in the for-profit private prison industry.

Nearly half of the more than 33,000 immigration detention beds in the United States are operated by private prison corporations, and the detention system will cost taxpayers more than $1.7 billion this year. Benefiting from this practice are companies like GEO Group and Corrections Corporation of America, as well a companies like Wells Fargo, that have invested in the growth of the private prison industry.

For more on the Austin protests, see the Grassroots Leadership or Texans United for Families facebook pages.  And, for more photos and videos from other Wells Fargo protests around the country, check out the National Prison Divestment Campaign, coordinated by Enlace. 

Occupy Wall Street - The Private Prison Connections

As the Occupy Wall Street movement gains steam in several Texas cities (in Austin, Houston, McAllen, for instance), I thought we'd highlight the banking sector's role in the private prison industry.  To start, here is a terrific video from Cuentame about the role of Wells Fargo in the private prison industry:

 

Protestors to Wells Fargo: Divest from GEO Group!

On Friday, I joined a protest by Texans United for Families against Wells Fargo's investment in private prison corporation GEO Group.  The protests, part of a larger private prison divestment campaign initiated by immigrant and worker rights organization Enlace, took place in more than 13 cities aroun

d the country including in Tennessee, Florida, Colorado, and other locations. 

Wells Fargo is one of the largest institutional investors in GEO Group, holding more than 3.5 million shares or $92 million dollars in the private prison corporation.  Protestors are particularly critical of GEO Group's lobbying and role in building new immigrant detention centers, including the a new prison in Karnes County, Texas

According to the protesters press release:

"'The private prison industry relies on taxpayers for its income and then lobbies for policies that benefit its bottom line,' said Dave Kalloor of Texans United for Families. 'Harsh immigrant incarceration policies and new detention centers, like one Karnes County, Texas, are some of the most lucrative policies for GEO and other private prison corporations.'  ...

Wells Fargo’s support of the GEO Group is even more troubling in light of GEO’s history in Texas. GEO’s facilities include prisons, immigration detention centers, and juvenile detention centers where people have suffered from inadequate medical care and unsafe and unsanitary conditions. Deaths, riots, and hunger strikes at GEO’s facilities are indicative of GEO’s culture of cruelty and underscore the need to end construction of new GEO facilities.

GEO is currently constructing a new immigration detention center in Karnes County, Texas. 'GEO and Wells Fargo profit from the detention and deportation system that separates families and tears our communities apart. Wells Fargo claims to support community-building and value ethics, yet they are investing in an industry with unethical practices that harm immigrants, people of color, and youth,' said Rocío Villalobos of Texans United for Families."

Check out Austin Indymedia's post for audio and additional coverage of the protest.  We'll keep you posted on developments from the private prison divestment campaign.

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