Seattle City Council votes to cut ties with Wells Fargo

SEATTLE -- The City Council voted Tuesday to cut ties with Wells Fargo because of the bank's involvement in the Dakota Access Pipeline.

The 9-0 vote came a week after the council's Finance Committee voted unanimously to divest a $3 billion in city money from Wells Fargo.

The crowd erupted in cheers and chanted "water is life" when the council unanimously passed the measure, which directs officials to end the city's contract with the San Francisco-based bank once it expires in 2018 and not to make new investments in Wells Fargo securities for three years.

"The example that we have set today can become a beacon of hope" for activists across the country, said Councilmember Kshama Sawant, who co-sponsored the legislation.

The vote by the City Council made Seattle the first city in the country to cut ties with the bank over the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Tribal members urged the Seattle council to send a broader message to oppose the pipeline and stand with indigenous people.

"You have been a city setting the example to the world and I look to you to do that now," Olivia One Feather, a member of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, told the council. "When big cities such as this do the right thing, it sparks hope in the world."

Environmental activists across the country have called on a number of banks to stop financing the construction of the oil pipeline as well as on individuals to pull their money out of those banks.

Wells Fargo has said it is one of 17 involved in financing the pipeline and that it is obligated by carry out its credit agreement. The bank is providing $120 million of the $2.5 billion.

"While we are disappointed that the city has decided to end our 18-year relationship, we stand ready to support Seattle with its financial services needs in the future," said Tim Brown, Wells Fargo Middle Market Banking regional manager.

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