Protesters Again Shine Spotlight On Citizens Bank

Videos, text and photos by TIM FAULKNER/ecoRI News staff

PROVIDENCE — Three climate activists were arrested March 2 after locking themselves to the downtown headquarters of Citizens Bank.

Members of the environmental activist group The FANG Collective used bicycle locks to secure themselves to the revolving door and the two swing doors at the bank’s main entrance. Access to that side of the building was closed for about 20 minutes before police and firefighters removed the door handles and arrested the activists.

The three were charged with disorderly conduct and vandalism.

The mid-morning protest was the third organized by The FANG Collective in recent weeks. The group is drawing attention to Citizens Bank for lending to oil and natural-gas pipeline projects. According to FANG, the Rhode Island-based bank is part of a consortium of financial institutions that provided $2.5 billion in funding to Sunoco Logistics. Citizens Bank contributed $72.5 million to the loan, according to the environmental organization.

Philadelphia-based Sunoco Logistics is a subsidiary of Energy Transfer Partners of Dallas. The Texas company is building the Dakota Access Pipeline, the Trans-Pecos Pipeline in Texas, the Bayou Bridge Pipeline proposed for Louisiana and the Mariner East Pipeline in Pennsylvania.

FANG’s “Shame on Citizens” boycott and divestment campaign began Feb. 8 with a rally led by Dakota Access Pipeline protesters. Seven days later, on Feb. 15, a group of protesters delivered a letter to Citizens Bank's corporate office asking that it cease its line of credit to Sunoco Logistics.

“We will keep taking action targeting Citizens Bank until they cut ties with Sunoco Logistics. We tried multiple times to directly negotiate with Citizens, only to be ignored. We have no option but to take action,” said Nick Katkevich, a FANG Collective organizer.

The Providence City Council is also considering an ordinance to divest its funds from the bank.

Citizens Bank declined to comment on the incident stating that it does not make statements on something associated with a customer relationship.