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The Bruno Brief: Climate activists take on JPMorgan Chase

In the first episode of season two of The Bruno Brief, we go to a protest of Chase Bank organized by climate justice activists on Thayer Street. We talk to Senior Staff Writer Jasper Yeh, who was on the scene and spoke with protestors about their stance against the bank’s investments in fossil fuels.



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Ben Glickman 

Welcome back to season two of The Bruno Brief from the Brown Daily Herald and WBRU. I'm Ben Glickman. We're excited to bring you more stories for this semester. This week, climate justice activists staged a protest of Chase Bank on Thayer Street to take a stand against the bank's investments in fossil fuels. 

Protesters 

[Chant] No more gas! No more oil! Keep your poison in the soil! 

Ben Glickman

Herald Senior Staff Writer Jasper Yeh and Bruno Brief Producer Max Karpawich were on the scene. Jasper, can you introduce yourself to the listeners? 

Jasper Yeh 

My name is Jasper, I'm a senior staff writer for The Herald. 

Ben Glickman

You were on the scene when this protest at Chase Bank began. Could you paint a picture for us?

Jasper Yeh

So, it was about 15 or 20 people, and they were all wearing these really bright green-yellow neon shirts. And on the back it said "Chase Criminal Bank." And then they had a lot of signs and posters talking about Chase the “criminal bank,” you know, their funding of fossil fuels. And then they met about two blocks up from the Chase Bank location. And they marched really, really slowly down Thayer Street to the bank. And a lot of the cars, they actually honked when they passed by either in support of the protests –

Ben Glickman

Or maybe in opposition?

Jasper Yeh

Yeah. So as they were walking down, two blocks down Thayer, they kept switching between different chants. Some of them were shaking maracas, some of them were tapping on their drums. And they were just making a lot of noise to, you know, attract the attention of people around.

Protesters  

[Chant] Which side are you on? Which side are you on?

Ben Glickman

So tell us about what happened when they actually got to the Chase Bank location.

Jasper Yeh 

So when they first arrived, they started off by standing outside and chanting for a while.

Protesters   

[Call and response chant] Get up. Get up. Get up, get up. Don't give up the fight. Don't give up the fight.

Jasper Yeh  

After which they had a few speeches delivered. One of them was from a previous Brown graduate. And he's also — he was also a part of the Rhode Island House of Representatives. And the other one was from a Rhode Island state senator, Kendra Anderson. 

Kendra Anderson 

I'm a politician. As much as I don't like that position, I do know that it comes with power and I accept that power. And what I am absolutely devastated about is what young people are facing today.

Jasper Yeh

After that, one of the protesters, they said they were expecting the CEO of Chase Bank, Jamie Dimon to show up. And at first I was kind of confused because I thought he was actually going to show up. But then later, she came back dressed in like a suit and, and like a hat. So it turns out it was a skit. And the skit was to mock Jamie Dimon and to mock, you know, the company and their funding of fossil fuels.

Protester (as Jamie Dimon)

Listen, I think you're taking these headlines about hurricanes and wildfires and flooding, and people drowning in basements and apartments for weeks a little too seriously! 

Second Protester 

Well,

Protester (as Jamie Dimon)

Here at Chase Bank, we like to make sure that you have everything you need in terms of credit.

Jasper Yeh

They also unveiled a really long piece of paper, which was 150,000 signatures to a petition to tell Chase Bank to stop funding fossil fuels. They unrolled the signatures, and it stretched across the bank and down the sidewalk.

Protester

[Unclear] Being rolled out is actually just a portion of it. It's 155,000 names of people like ourselves who want the planet not to just be [unclear] floods and hurricanes and fires.

Ben Glickman

It sounds like they were definitely theatrical, a bit. 

Jasper Yeh 

Yeah, definitely. One of the leaders of the protest, you know, as they were marching, she was also like, we have to be as loud as possible, and we're going to walk as slowly as we can.

Ben Glickman

For maximum effect. 

Jasper Yeh

Yeah.

Ben Glickman

So I wonder if you could kind of give us a sense of the mood among the protesters.

Jasper Yeh

Yeah, so I think there was definitely a lot of anger in there. A lot of passion. I didn't know what to expect of the protest. I thought it would be a larger crowd. So it was a pretty small crowd. But despite having only a few people, they were all really passionate about it. You know, they were kind of on their own, I feel like, but they were all chanting really loudly. They were all you know, making as much sound as they could. 

Ben Glickman

So small in number, but enthusiastic?

Jasper Yeh

Yeah, definitely.

Protesters  

[Call and response chant] Mic check. Mic check. Mic Check. Mic check. Around — the people around you, say "Just do what I'm doing." Jamie Dimon! Jamie Dimon.

Ben Glickman  

Tell us a little bit about kind of what prompted this specific protest. Was there something that they were kind of reacting to?

Jasper Yeh

So this particular protest, it was partly caused by the publication of the 2021 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Report. And the IPCC, this organization, they are in charge of disseminating information about climate change. This is kind of what triggered these protests in response to the kind of disastrous results that the report claimed. But it's also important to note that this is definitely not the first time that this protest has happened. It has happened multiple times and in multiple locations, because more generally, they want Chase to stop funding fossil fuels because they claim that Chase Bank is the number one funder of fossil fuels. 

Ben Glickman

So, at previous protests, we at The Herald reached out to a spokesperson at Chase to ask about some of the claims that were made. And they told us about different initiatives they have, not necessarily directly responding but giving some answers about the work on climate that Chase is doing. What did they say this time? 

Jasper Yeh

I separately emailed a spokesperson from Chase Bank. She referred me to someone who oversees Sustainability Communications at the bank. At the bank, we also weren't able to talk to anyone in the office. Some protesters tried to get into the bank, but there were three police officers who stood right inside the door, watching the protest. 

Protester

Chase Bank’s not gonna come out. They don't want us to come in, and the police are ready to arrest us if we go in. We're not gonna go in. 

Jasper Yeh

And (The Herald) did try to go in. But it seems like the police officers thought that we were also part of the protest. So they also weren't going to let us in.

Ben Glickman

When I was a senior staff writer, I covered two of these protests that were very similar. But the protesters are still here. Do you think that there was some frustration that nothing has changed? 

Jasper Yeh

Yeah, there definitely is. A recurring theme from the protesters when I interviewed them — they just kept telling me about their children, their grandchildren and how they're running out of time. So I think there's definitely this recognition that, you know, this problem has persisted for so long. And the protesters themselves, they don't see this problem ending any time soon unless they take action, like participating in this protest.

Protester 

We don't want dividends from Chase. We want Chase to straighten up and fly right. And we want a safe environment for our children and our grandchildren.

Ben Glickman

When you say that they're talking about their children and their grandchildren — that's sort of implicitly morbid, I think. That, you know, the world they're leaving might be worse off. Did you get the sense that the protesters were hopeful at all?

Jasper Yeh

Yeah, so one of the people who spoke to the protesters, he was a previous legislator in the Rhode Island House of Representatives. He talked about how there was a lot to be fearful of in regards to these climate change issues. But then I remember that he also told everyone how there's also a lot to be hopeful of. So he encouraged all the activists there to continue their work in climate change activism.

Aaron Regunberg 

And it doesn't happen on its own, right? And that's why we're here today. And that's why we are going to continue to show up, to speak out, to put our bodies on the line: because our future is worth it.

Ben Glickman 

Jasper, thanks so much for being on the Bruno Brief.

Jasper Yeh 

Thank you for having me.

Ben Glickman 

Thanks for listening to the Bruno brief. Our show is produced by Libby Burnett, Corey Gelb-Bicknell, Max Karpawich and me, Ben Glickman. We'll see you next week.

This transcript has been edited for length and clarity.

____________________

This episode was produced by Olivia Burdette, Ben Glickman and Corey Gelb-Bicknell, with audio reporting contributed by Max Karpawich.

Music: 

Denzel Sprak by Blue Dot Sessions (www.sessions.blue)

Cab Ride by Blue Dot Sessions (www.sessions.blue

Kid Kodi by Blue Dot Sessions (www.sessions.blue)



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