Extinction Rebellion activists arrested for spray painting Citibank branches

NY: Extinction Rebellion
NYPD officers arrest Extinction Rebellion activists after spray painting climate change message.
Photo by Gabriele Holtermann

On April 24, one day before Citibank’s annual shareholder meeting, climate activists from Extinction Rebellion (XR) held actions at Citibank (Citi) branches in lower and Midtown Manhattan, calling for an end to fossil fuel funding.

While banks like HSBC and Danske have announced they would end funding for new fossil fuel projects and oil and gas products, Citi, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo have yet to heed the call and have pumped almost $1 trillion into oil, coal and gas industries between 2016-2022.

Citi alone has poured $333 billion into the fossil fuel sector since 2016, making the banking giant the world’s second-largest fossil fuel funder and contributing $800 million to ConocoPhillips, the oil company involved in the controversial ‘Willow’ project in Alaska, which was recently approved by the Biden administration, negating its promise to curb fossil fuel production.

XR activists John Mark Rozendaal and Georgia Smith sprayed “Climate Criminals” and “No More Oil” on the windows of Citi on Pine and Broadway with red chalk spray paint early in the morning.

Both activists spoke with amNewYork Metro before the NYPD arrested them.

Rozendaal participated in the action demanding that shareholders pass a resolution to stop funding new fossil fuel infrastructure.

NYPD officers arrest Extinction Rebellion activists after spray painting climate change message.Photo by Gabriele Holtermann

“People and plants and animals all over the world are suffering and dying because of the climate crisis,” Rozendaal said. “Citibank has actually made a paper commitment to reducing financing for new fossil fuel infrastructure, but they’re not doing it.”

Fossil fuels are the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions and responsible for climate warming. Scientists warn that in order to have a chance of keeping the targets of global heating below two degrees or below 1.5 degrees, the burning of fossil fuels has to be reduced drastically.

Extinction Rebellion activists spray paint messages on a Citibank branch demanding an end of fossil fuel funding.Photo by Gabriele Holtermann

Georgia Smith said that banks were only concerned about profits and didn’t care if the planet was inhabitable for 50% of the population in five decades.

“But, you know, even if they have these trillions of dollars, it’s not going to save them,” Smith said. “It’s not going to save their children, and it’s not going to save their grandchildren from experiencing the social mayhem that will ensue when we actually really experience this climate crisis.”

A few hours later, three more groups of XR climate activists hit two more Citi branches and one Bank of America branch in Midtown Manhattan, “decorating” the windows with similar messages.

Nicolas Linares, one of the activists who chalked up the Citi branch on East 42nd and Madison, grew up in Columbia and now lives in Queens. He pointed out that Columbia and Queens are seriously affected by the climate crisis, so it was imperative to take action to protect the planet.

“I find that is logical for a son, you know, to take care of his mother.This is the moment where our mother needs us,” Linares said, referring to “Mother Earth.” “So I find it logical, not radical, to take action, to protect our mother, our ‘Pachamama.'”

Extinction Rebellion activists spray paint messages on a Citibank branch demanding an end of fossil fuel funding.Photo by Gabriele Holtermann

Carol Gross participated in the arrestable action at Bank of America on 42nd Street and 6th Avenue and was one of seven activists arrested. Gross joined the protest for her soon-to-be-born grandchild.

“I want people to notice. We don’t have any time left,” Gross said. “We’d have to be strong and make sure our voices are heard.”
Simultaneously, climate activists held actions across the country protesting banking conglomerates Citi, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo.

Demonstrations will continue Tuesday and Wednesday, organizers said, beginning with a sit-in at Citi Headquarters Tuesday morning.

When contacted for comment, a spokesperson for Citi pointed amNewYork Metro to recent reports that highlight the company’s $1 trillion sustainable financial goals.

“Since 2020, we have now financed and facilitated $348.5 billion in environmental and social finance activity, putting us well down the path to meeting our $1 trillion sustainable finance goal by 2030,” the rep said in a statement. “This financing has been directed toward myriad opportunities in communities across the world, including supporting microfinance in Peru, financing community solar projects in the United States, financing access to clean water and sanitation in Brazil, and helping expand access to healthcare in India and increase food security in Nigeria.”