A call for socially responsible banking

This is the published form of a letter originally delivered to President Brian Rosenberg.

Dear President Rosenberg,
We, participants in Outer Peace Circle, urge Macalester College to stop banking with Wells Fargo. Wells Fargo’s relationships with GEO Group and Corrections Corporation of America perpetuate gross injustices and contradict Macalester’s commitments to social justice and human rights.

Outer Peace Circle includes college students concerned and impacted by youth violence and incarceration. We support and learn from the Circle of Peace, a grassroots movement of young people and Elders in Rondo. OPC has met weekly since last year, including this summer, to engage our experiences with many kinds of violence. We start with the idea that we all have a stake in violence – and that our citizenship takes shape around militarized boundaries of nation, race, and property. Like many students, we resist Wells Fargo’s foreclosure policies. But we’d like to attract your attention to another system of violence sustained by Wells Fargo: for-profit incarceration. Wells Fargo owns more than 4 million shares in GEO Group and 50,000 shares in Corrections Corporation of America (CCA). Wells Fargo also provides lending and banking services to these incarceration corporations. GEO Group and CCA own and operate prisons, immigration detention centers, and lockdown residential treatment facilities for youth and adults. They control more than 148,000 people in the US, including the majority of immigrant detainees. CCA owns Prairie Correctional Facility in Appleton, Minnesota, and CCA subsidiary TransCor transports some Minnesota prisoners. Their carceral control is massive and close to home. GEO and CCA profit from the post-1980 neoliberal explosion of structurally racist policing and detention that more than quintupled the number of people under correctional control in just 20 years. Rampant and unmonitored abuse (torture) deepens this violence. If you’d like more information, we can recommend sources on these subjects and share some of our experiences.

Do private prisons make the Macalester community safer? Is it ethical to contract the physical control of human beings ‘legally’ dehumanized as criminals? Is mass incarceration inevitable and irresistible? If we don’t say NO, we implicitly say yes. We can and must demand our banks don’t profit from celling and controlling bodies as if they are not also people in communities. Wells Fargo invests in a system of violence that literally dismembers our generation and our communities. Macalester’s money has no place in their hands.

Signed, Maya Pisel, Sean Ryan, Aimee Mackie, Ellen Nikodym, David Rao, Caroline Devany, Onyinye Alheri, Emma Kalish, Laura Levinson, Natalie Kamplair, Analiese Sigelko, Rebecca Hornstein, Eric Goldfischer, Paige Schaefer, Margo Faulk, Renata Nelson, Kate Keleher, Beatrice Rendón, Sophia Hansen-Day, Emma Buechs, Sarah O’Connor, Phoebe DeVincenzi, Alice Madden