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Activists Prepare for Citigroup Conference
by Devin Carberry

A thirty-foot tall blue balloon has been spotted across the country, roaming from one college campus to another, sporting the slogan Citi Lives Richly and the Earth Pays! This anti-corporate earth balloon will make a brief stop at NYU on April 1 before it continues on the Rainforest Action Network's (RAN) The Planet is Not For Sale National Tour. The balloon mocks Citi's recent $100 million ÏLive Richly advertising campaign, and is a cry for Citi to change some of its practices, such as the clearing of rainforests and the dislocation of indigenous peoples, according to RAN.

Citigroup is the number one funder of the fossil fuel industry, the mining industry, and the forest destruction industry, said Rob Fish, a member of the RAN. ÏWe're demanding that they stop the destruction-stop funding fossil fuel research and development and reinvest that [money] into more sustainable solar energy, wind power and tree-free paper.
After the balloon's visit, from April 14-21, is Earth Week at NYU and the national week of action against Citi. The week will enjoy a veritable smorgasbord of protests, theatrics, rallies, and educational events that will be capped by a mass demonstration at Citi's annual shareholders meeting at Carnegie Hall on April 16.

Very fortuitously, several hundred hardcore activists will be in town the weekend before for the Empowering Democracy conference, a conference for challenging corporate power and demanding accountability. This year's focus just happens to be the Citi campaign ( HYPERLINK "http://www.empoweringdemocracy.org" www.empoweringdemocracy.org ).

Indigenous leaders from Peru and Indonesia will be speaking at the demonstration on how Citi has ravaged their communities and forced them from their native lands. There will also be street theater performances incorporating tattered red umbrellas (the Citi emblem) emblazoned with Drop Your Citi Stock. Because there will be members of many communities who do not want to be arrested and because of the dire consequences of having speakers who are in the U.S. on Visas arrested, there are no direct actions planned.

Last year, members of an anti-Citi coalition were able to infiltrate the shareholder's meeting to address Citigroup CEO sSandy Weill and shareholders personally. After a fiery diatribe challenging Sandy on his company's environmental and social record, Ilyse Hogue of RAN, was escorted out of the building. This year it has been suggested that Sandy and the cadre of shareholders be presented with a life-size petition signed by people who refuse to bank with Citi until it ends its ongoing funding of environmentally destructive projects and human rights violations.

 

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