Approximately 50 New Haven residents and Yalies took to the street Thursday night to reaffirm support for city’s divestment from Wells Fargo for helping fund the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Mayor Toni Harp announced Monday that the city plans to cease hiring Wells Fargo to manage city finances, citing on a radio show the bank’s involvement in the DAPL as the main reason for divestment. New Haven activist group New Haven Stands with Standing Rock had planned a Thursday rally before Harp announced her decision, and despite the recent news, the group moved forward with the rally to thank Harp and support the city’s decision.

The group gave speeches outside City Hall starting at 4:30 p.m. and then marched to Wells Fargo at 5:15 p.m. Rally attendees held signs and chanted “say it loud, say it clear, get our money out of here” and “Mayor Harp, the election’s near, get our money out of here” outside of the bank, which is located on Church and Elm streets.

“We understand it will take some time, but we want to make sure [divestment] happens and all the dollars are out,” Rev. Allie Perry DIV ’80 said.

Before the rally ended, attendees went to the mayor’s office to deliver petition signatures in support of divestment. Most of the attendees were barred at the office door, which caused friction between attendees and New Haven police.

Melinda Tuhus, an event organizer, said the group has collected about 500 signatures on paper in addition to an online petition. She told the crowd she has personally gathered about 150 signatures and that most people she spoke with were eager to sign when they learned the petition was about Wells Fargo.

Perry said New Haven activists held the rally to reinforce the commitment Harp made and to educate the public on the problems associated with Wells Fargo. Besides support for DAPL, these include involvement with private prisons and scamming of individuals, she said.

She added she hopes to see the money reinvested in a regional bank as regional banks are more community based and accountable, pointing out that it is critical that the city not reinvest in a bank that is as socially irresponsible as Wells Fargo.

In an interview with the News earlier this week, Laurence Grotheer said the city would consider other banks to work with, likely CitiBank and People’s Bank.

New Haven resident Paula Panzarella said she attended the rally because she thinks it is important for the city government to know residents do not want their money invested in Wells Fargo. She added that the bank should know that New Haven residents stand with Standing Rock and against fossil fuels. Perry pointed out that the Mayor’s announcement of divestment shows that the no-DAPL movement in New Haven has made a difference.

Wells Fargo was founded in 1852.

Sara Tabin