Immigrant rights advocates gathered in the pouring rain early Wednesday morning outside Jamie Dimon's Upper East Side home to protest and shame the JPMorgan Chase CEO for his company's leading role in financing the private prison and immigrant detention industry.
Dressed in orange jumpsuits and carrying banners that read "$top Financing Oppression," approximately 100 protesters arrived at the arch of Dimon's Park Avenue building at around 8:00 a.m., where they blared audio of crying immigrant children who'd been separated from their families. Eight people were arrested after blocking the street outside the building's courtyard, organizers said. Others attempted to deliver boxes of petitions with more than 100,000 signatures condemning the prison profiteers, though Dimon's security apparently refused.
.@AnaMariaArchil2 of @CPDAction, Yaritza of @MaketheRoadNY, and Perla Silva, whose parents were detained by ICE, tried to deliver 3 boxes of petitions asking JPMorgan’s Jamie Dimon to divest from private prisons and detention centers.
Security refused to accept the petitions. pic.twitter.com/Xy2fgsKhbO
— Jews for Racial & Economic Justice (@JFREJNYC) July 25, 2018
Happening now: Immigrants and activists outside of the condo of @Chase CEO Jamie Dimon playing the recordings of the children from detention centers demanding that they stop financing hate #BACKERSOFHATE #FamiliesBelongsTogether @MaketheRoadNY @CPDAction pic.twitter.com/bgOCP5GAgQ
— NY Communities (@nychange) July 25, 2018
The demonstration's goal, according to organizers with Make the Road and New York Communities for Change, was to call attention to JPMorgan Chase's bankrolling of Geo Group and CoreCivic, two private prison contractors that help operate ICE's sprawling detention network. CoreCivic runs the detention facility in Elizabeth, New Jersey, where detainees have complained of a litany of "harsh and inhumane conditions," including maggots in their food, bleach-tasting water, and a lack of ventilation.
According to a report by the research and policy center In the Public Interest, JPMorgan holds the largest share of both groups' corporate bonds, totaling $166 million. Other major Wall Street backers of private prisons include Bank of America and Wells Fargo, whose board members got their own protest in New Jersey on Tuesday.
In return for their financing, the banks collect hundreds of millions of dollars in interest and fees on outstanding debt from the corporations. "Private prison companies rely on debt financing from banks to expand their control of the criminal justice system and immigration enforcement system," notes the In the Public Interest report.
Dimon, a one-time member of President Trump's Strategic and Policy Forum, spoke out last month against the administration's child separation policy, while warning that "immigration problems [are] tearing apart our body politic and damaging our economy." Protesters on Wednesday seized on that apparent hypocrisy, and took issues with the ways in which Dimon has portrayed himself as a Trump opponent.
"It is time for Jamie Dimon to stop pretending to stand with immigrants while financing our suffering," said Melissa Nunez, a Make the Road member and former detainee at a CoreCivic facility. "As long as he and his bank is bankrolling CoreCivic and the Geo Group, they'll be backers of hate."
On Wednesday, activists vowed to continue "to protest Dimon at his various homes" until his company stops bankrolling private prisons. We've reached out to Dimon to see if the protests have forced him to reevaluate his company's financing decisions—we'll update if we hear back.