Austin, Texas — A coalition of Austin-based immigrant rights, human rights, student and faith organizations will join in a state-wide day of action on Leap Day 2012 in protests against private detention company investments. Protestors are calling for major investors such as Wells Fargo to divest of their holdings in the for-profit private prison industry. According to SEC filings, Wells Fargo currently holds over 3.5 million shares in private prison corporation GEO Group as well as shares in Corrections Corporation of America.
Participants in the protest will gather outside of the Wells Fargo located at 2354 Guadalupe Street from 3:30- 4:30 on Wednesday, Feb. 29.
On January 24th, 2012 groups delivered a letter to the Wells Fargo branch manager. The letter gave detailed information about their request for divestment. In an effort to promote dialogue, the letter asked for a response by February 15th. Wells Fargo failed to respond.
“For-profit prison companies, which rely on billions of tax dollars as their primary source of revenue, regularly lobby federal and state governments to ensure their interests are met,” said Bob Libal of Grassroots Leadership. “Corporations like GEO Group and Corrections Corporation of America benefit from a cruel detention and deportation policy that has affected many members of our community.” Recent reports by the Houston Chronicle and PBS showed that rape and sexual abuse of detainees is rampant across the increasingly privatized federal immigrant detention system.
Wells Fargo, a recipient of billions of bailout dollars, is a major contributor to politicians who have championed the increased incarceration of immigrants. Wells Fargo has also played a key role supporting GEO business ventures.
Peter Cervantes-Gautschi of Enlace, a national coalition coordinating the protests, stated “The United Methodist Church divested its entire holdings from CCA and GEO; these investors should follow the UMC’s responsible investment example.”
The UMC Pension is one of the largest faith-based pension funds in the United States and ranks among the top 100 pension funds in the country. Prominent hedge fund, Pershing Square Management Fund, also divested its over $180 million in CCA holdings after the launch of the Prison Divestment Campaign last year.
Wells Fargo protests will also take place on Wednesday in San Antonio and Houston.