Scrolling Headlines:

UMass tuition set to rise 3-4 percent for 2017-2018 school year -

July 18, 2017

PVTA potential cuts affect UMass and five college students -

July 10, 2017

New director of student broadcast media at UMass this fall -

July 10, 2017

Whose American Dream? -

June 24, 2017

Man who threatened to bomb Coolidge Hall taken into ICE custody -

June 24, 2017

Cale Makar drafted by Colorado Avalanche in first round of 2017 NHL Entry Draft -

June 24, 2017

Conservatives: The Trump experiment is over -

June 17, 2017

UMass basketball lands transfer Kieran Hayward from LSU -

May 18, 2017

UMass basketball’s Donte Clark transferring to Coastal Carolina -

May 17, 2017

Report: Keon Clergeot transfers to UMass basketball program -

May 15, 2017

Despite title-game loss, Meg Colleran’s brilliance in circle was an incredible feat -

May 14, 2017

UMass softball loses in heartbreaker in A-10 title game -

May 14, 2017

Navy sinks UMass women’s lacrosse 23-11 in NCAA tournament second round, ending Minutewomen’s season -

May 14, 2017

UMass softball advances to A-10 Championship game -

May 13, 2017

UMass basketball adds Rutgers transfer Jonathan Laurent -

May 13, 2017

UMass women’s lacrosse gets revenge on Colorado, beat Buffs 13-7 in NCAA Tournament First Round -

May 13, 2017

Meg Colleran dominates as UMass softball tops Saint Joseph’s, advances in A-10 tournament -

May 12, 2017

Rain keeps UMass softball from opening tournament play; Minutewomen earn A-10 honors -

May 11, 2017

Former UMass football wide receiver Tajae Sharpe accused of assault in lawsuit -

May 10, 2017

Justice Gorsuch can save the UMass GEO -

May 10, 2017

Non-violent direct action in Amherst Center against big banks’ pipeline funding

Hayley Johnson/Collegian

The below-freezing temperatures early Saturday morning didn’t put a stop to the non-violent direct action in front of the Bank of America in Amherst. Three local residents locked themselves to large barrels to take a stand against funders of the Dakota Access Pipeline and Trans-Pecos Pipeline.

Pioneer Valley residents, Marc Osten, Adrie Lester and Steven Botkin sat between four 55-gallon drums with fake oil running down their faces, surrounded by caution tape. Wells Fargo, Bank of America, TD Bank and Citibank logos were displayed on each of the drums.

Similar to the water ceremony at TD Bank in Amherst on Dec. 5, 2016, this guerilla street theater encouraged citizens to take their money out of big banks and set up accounts in small, local banks.

Lester, a New Salem resident said, “We have tables set up today that give people really clear, easy instructions about which banks they can move their money to, how to do that, letters that are already typed up that they can just sign their names to.”

“There are people right now in South Dakota, Florida, West Texas, around the country who are really trying to resist this continued session with fossil fuels and the absolute insane perpetuation of a war against native peoples that’s been going on for more than 200 years in this country,” Osten, an Amherst resident said. “So we’re here to really try to communicate to people that these are issues that matter to them too.”

Georganne Greene, a minster from Pelham and police and emergency liaison for the action said, “The police were here when we got here, they were very cooperative in letting us set up…Our purpose is education, not to be disrespectful in any way… I’m so proud to be part of this, to have a chance to give back to this Earth that’s given so much to us.”

The protest did not attract a large crowd, but Osten, the main organizer of the action, is satisfied with the effects he believes it will have on the community.

“There were 1,300 shares…off of our live feed. And I know that at least a dozen of those shares were by major media outlets…I would guess that we are in the hundreds of people who are going to divest just based on this action, if we could count I wouldn’t be surprised if the numbers are like that,” he said.

Giovana Castro, a sophomore at UMass majoring in social thought and political economy stood at a table to educate people on the importance of divesting from big banks.

She explained that her role was the education part of “educate, agitate, organize,” an idea that has been around for over a century.

“I’m here because this nation was founded on a genocide of indigenous people, and the continuous colonization of indigenous people and indigenous lands…This pipeline is another instance in which we’re recolonizing indigenous land, sacred indigenous land…We want people to know why is this important and why are we here,” said Castro.

Police monitored the action, but did not ask the protesters to stop or leave at any point.

The action came to an end between 11:30 a.m. and noon, a decision made by the organizers.

Osten said, “We basically had a discussion with [the police] and we decided that we felt as if we had accomplished our mission for the day…it was a negotiation and also an acceptance that there are a lot of resources needed today to help keep students in the area safe and that’s a serious thing, and our objective is not to have people be unsafe, but the exact opposite.”

“There will be actions in Northampton…we will not go away…this is not a campaign that is going away,” said Osten.

A goal moving forward for these local citizen activists is to find a way for the town of Amherst to divest from TD Bank and Bank of America.

Hayley Johnson can be reached at and followed on Twitter @hayleyk_johnson.



Leave A Comment