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Protesters display mock oil pipeline in Seattle bank

Protesters display mock oil pipeline in Seattle bank (PHOTO: KOMO News)

The protest moved in with military precision.

First there were the holiday bell ringers wearing Salvation Army aprons, then the enormous banner dropped off the side of the building and finally the hoard of people, many in costume, crowding into the downtown Seattle lobby.

Just after noon Friday nearly 100 activists crowded into the Russell Investments Center on Second Avenue to protest JP Morgan Chase’s connection to the Keystone XL pipeline.

Margo Polley donned a yellow hazmat suit and held a piece of crime scene tape to block people from nearing a mock oil pipeline the group stretched across the lobby. The building is home to the financial institution’s pacific northwest headquarters.

“A pipeline is totally incompatible with our fight for a livable planet,” Polley said. “If you stand for human rights, if you stand for social justice and you stand for a livable planet you have to stand against Chase and their funding of this pipeline.”

While Polley stood amongst the mock hazmat workers, Rachel Heaton, a member of the Muckleshoot Tribe, bounced her infant son, Dahnahhi, alongside a group of drummers.

“I want to make sure I’m doing my part for his future,” said Heaton, who is part of the activist group Mazaska Talks. ““The decision we’re making and these banks are making is for their future ultimately if they have clean water, clean air and what these banks are contributing to.”

Activists said they are opposed to the JP Morgan Chase renewing a $1.5 billion loan to TransCanada, the group behind the pipeline.

Darcy Donahoe-Wilmot, spokeswoman for JPMorgan Chase, said in a statement the company “has a long history of advancing environmental sustainable solutions for clients and its own operations.”

“We firmly believe that balancing environmental and social issues with financial considerations is fundamental to sound risk management and a core part of corporate responsibility. We take these issues seriously across our business,” the statement said.

While the elaborate protest played out, office workers snapped photos and the building’s Santa Claus sat back and watched. An activist Kris Kringle mingled among protesters during the speeches and drumming.

Seattle police bike officers were parked outside, but department officials said they were only there on standby – in case the protest blocked doorways, sidewalks or the street.

In May many of the same activists staged a protest against JPMorgan Chase by building tent-like structures they called “tarpees” on Second Avenue, creating gridlock throughout much of downtown. While more than a dozen people were arrested during that protest against the Trans Mountain Pipeline police said there were no arrests Friday.

One protester said Russell Investment Center security asked them to leave Friday, but they refused. After more than an hour, protesters wrapped up Friday, packing up the mock pipeline in a rolling suitcase and pulling two massive banners off the side of buildings.

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