FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
“If you dare to struggle, you dare to win. If you dare not struggle, then damn it, you don’t deserve to win.” — Fred Hampton, Slain Black Panther Party Chairman, Illinois Chapter
Back in December 2015, the Afrikan Black Coalition unanimously demanded for the University of California (UC) to divest from private prisons. Shortly after the demand, the University of California divested nearly $30 million from private prisons. While this was a momentous and historic win, we knew our battle was not over as the UC still maintained several relationships with Wells Fargo – who provide a $900 million dollar credit line to Core Civic (formerly Corrections Corporation of America) and are also part of the Million Shares Club. Following continued advocacy from the Afrikan Black Coalition, the University of California has finally decided to discontinue several ($475 million worth) of its existing contracts with Wells Fargo. More specifically, the University of California has agreed to three key points:
- Terminated the $25 million commercial paper contract with Wells Fargo on November 2016.
- Terminate the $150 million interest reset contract with Wells Fargo by April 1st, 2017.
- Terminate $200 million out of the $300 million line of credit with Wells Fargo by next month and the remaining $100 million as soon as a replacement bank is found, which is actively being sought for.
The UC’s decision to discontinue $475 million worth of contracts, and line of credit by April 2017 comes on the heels of several cities and states terminating their relationships with a bank that has caused great harm to our communities. This decision made by UC CFO Nathan Brostrom and his senior staff regarding the UC’s relationship with Wells Fargo is the first of its kind within higher education institutions. This decision is the result of a continued line of communication and spirit of cooperation that has been maintained between the Afrikan Black Coalition and senior UC administrators. We commend UC CFO Brostrom and his staff for their leadership and good faith effort on this matter and for communicating this information to ABC representatives in a meeting that took place on 1/17/2017 at the UC office of President in Oakland, CA. The UC is choosing to keep its $425 million in investments and recently signed interest rate swap contracts that expire in 2023, 2045, and 2047 because of the high cost of exiting those contracts at the moment.
Wells Fargo is the syndicating agent for Core Civic’s (formerly Corrections Corporation of America) $900 million line of credit, a trustee for the GEO Group’s $300 million corporate debt, and are notorious for grossly discriminatory and predatory lending practices targeting Black and brown communities, evidenced by many related lawsuits and settlements. More recently, we discovered that Wells Fargo created over 2 million fake accounts and has been ordered to pay the largest penalty since the founding of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Since then, several states (including California), counties, and cities have terminated their relationships with the bank. We encourage Wells Fargo to terminate ALL of its relationships with prisons (private and public), and atone for their wrongdoings by paying reparations to the communities from whom they have stolen millions of dollars and whose financial credit histories they have ruined.
Much like our December 2015 victory, where we pushed the UC to divest all of its nearly $30 million in shares from private prisons (Core Civic, GEO Group and G4S), this is an unprecedented move that can shift the landscape of not just California, but the nation. By taking a stand against the amoral practices of an enormous corporation like Wells Fargo, the Afrikan Black Coalition is pushing the UC to exhibit the kind of leadership necessary for the survival of communities unfairly targeted by a criminal financial system. We dedicate this small victory to the hundreds and thousands of our people who are trapped in America’s gulags. Through the organized struggle of our masses, we believe our liberation is inevitable.