Trans and Queer Activists Blockade Human Rights Campaign Fundraiser over Partnership with Wells Fargo

WASHINGTON — Today, trans and queer activists with Trans Woman of Color Collective, No Justice No Pride (NJNP), and GetEqual, blockaded the entrance to the Human Rights Campaign’s National Dinner fundraiser, in protest of the organization’s ongoing partnership with Wells Fargo. The groups used bike locks and PVC pipes to hold locked blockades in front of multiple entrances to the Walter E. Washington convention center, where HRC was holding its $400-per-plate fundraiser.

Protesters demanded that HRC immediately end its relationship with Wells Fargo and no longer accept Wells Fargo’s funding, citing Wells Fargo’s significant investments in private prisons, predatory lending practices, and financing of pipelines that desecrate Native land.

“HRC’s blatant refusal to divest from Wells Fargo is evidence of what Black trans women like myself have known for years: HRC has never prioritized the experiences, voices, leadership or needs of those most disproportionately impacted by state sanctioned violence and often pursues its capitalist goals at our expense,” said Lourdes Ashley Hunter, MPA, Executive Director of Trans Woman of Color Collective, who locked down as part of the blockade. “The silencing and erasure is rooted in anti-Blackness and are forms of violence that we have experienced for years at the hands of non-profit juggernauts such as HRC.”

“Our journey towards collective liberation is inextricably linked to dismantling systems that reinforce white supremacy and capitalism such as the prison industrial complex, immigrant detention, housing discrimination and Native genocide — battles in which Wells Fargo and HRC sit confidently on the wrong side,” Hunter added. “As a Black, Trans, disabled, poor person, I dont have the luxury of separating my identities and I have had enough of HRC’s investment in white supremacy and capitalism. It is time for HRC to commit to meaningful investments that strengthen and support Black and Brown trans communities.”

Despite a national movement of communities and institutions divesting from Wells Fargo over their human rights violations and predatory practices, the website for HRC’s national dinner lists Wells Fargo as the event’s “presenting sponsor.” For more than a decade, HRC has rated Wells Fargo one of the “best places to work” as an LGBT employee. Protestors say it’s time for this relationship to end, and that its ongoing existence amounts to “complicity” with systemic racism and exploitative corporate capitalism.

“Under a blatant white-supremacist administration, those of us who claim to want justice for the LGBT community at large have to be as clear as those who oppose us. HRC choosing to celebrate Wells Fargo, who finances private prisons and immigration detention centers alike, sends a scary message: that the struggles of immigrants, people of color, and low-income communities are not the struggles of LGBT people,” said Aaryn Lang, Movement Building and Campaign Manager of GetEqual. “We’re here to encourage HRC to open its eyes and make another choice. You cannot celebrate an opponent of LGBT communities and also be our champion. Like the National LGBTQ Task Force, this past May, HRC must divest from business with Wells Fargo to be in service of those of us who are most negatively impacted by anti-LGBT violence in this country. The strength of our movement depends on it.”

Protesters dressed as zombies as part of the action in an effort to “reflect the horror done by HRC partnering with a monster like Wells Fargo.” “We are the dream of Trans and queer liberation — that HRC has tried to erase with complicity politics — that has come back from the dead to demand more from those who claim our voices without listening to the concerns of our communities,” said Emmelia Talarico, chair of No Justice No Pride’s steering committee.

“In June, at the Pride Parade, we targeted Capital Pride’s willingness to sell our communities out to harmful corporations. Today, we’re targeting HRC’s willingness to do the same,” said Emmelia Talarico. “These actions are microcosms in a broader struggle. For decades, the LGBT movement has cast aside the most marginalized in pursuit of ‘equality’ for the most privileged members of our communities. Our hope is that No Justice No Pride’s actions begin to wake the LGBT establishment up to the fact that there is a new generation of trans and queer folks with bigger, broader and more radical dreams of liberation. Dreams inspired by the lives of our ancestors — like Sylvia Rivera, Marsha P. Johnson, and Audre Lorde — which are fundamentally incompatible with entities like Wells Fargo.”

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