BLAM! Campaign

In 2010 EQAT launched its first campaign —Bank Like Appalachia Matters (BLAM!)

EQAT asked PNC Bank, a historically Quaker bank with whom our community has had a long relationship, to withdraw financing from corporations who engage in mountaintop removal coal mining. The campaign began with a meeting with Regional President of PNC Bank, J. William Mills, who insisted PNC would not take any action to curb their investments. EQAT waged an escalating series of actions until PNC met our demands in 2015. 

Below is a brief history of the campaign. For a more detailed timeline, click below.

  • On March 9, 2010 EQAT sang songs and flyered outside Philadelphia’s Flower Show, where PNC was a main sponsor to the annual event attracting over 250,000 people.
  • Two EQAT members (and two allies) were arrested in September 29, 2010 for nonviolently occupying a PNC Bank in Washington DC. EQATers, joined by students from Swarthmore and Reverend Billy’s Gospel Choir, built a mountain (made of dirt) and urge PNC to stop destroying mountains.
  • By October 2010, PNC released their first policy limiting investments on mountaintop removal. The bank pledged to stop financing any corporation that gets more than 50% of its coal from MTR sources—which due to their investment mechanisms apparently has no effect.
  • On March 9, 2011, we returned to the Philadelphia Flower Show this going going inside to PNC’s exhibit and creating a “Flower Crime Scene,” highlighting PNC’s hypocritical environmental policy. We were escorted out by police.
  • On December 6, 2011, we built windmills inside the lobby of PNC Bank in downtown Philadelphia to show that we believe that PNC has alternatives. Five people were arrested.
  • When PNC Bank still had not responded, we organized a 16 day, 200 mile walk across the state of Pennsylvania, departing from Philadelphia on April 30, 2012, visiting PNC Banks, Quaker Meetings, and other sympathetic congregations and organizations, and ending at PNC National Headquarters in Pittsburgh on May 16, 2012.
  • On March 13, 2013, EQAT members and allies fasted for 40 days in solidarity with the resistance efforts in Appalachia against mountaintop removal coal mining, and to prepare ourselves to prepare ourselves for an escalated approach of targeting individual PNC board members.
  • On April 23, 2013 EQAT members broke their fast at the PNC Shareholder’s meeting. Having previously protested outside their meetings, EQAT members went inside and held a Quaker-style meeting for worship during the shareholder meeting, which included asking each board member to stop supporting mountaintop removal. PNC executives rushed the agenda and ended the meeting in a mere 20 minutes. PNC was now on the defense.
  • EQAT began spotlighting individual board members—showing up at public events (such as PNC board member Jane Pepper’s horticultural trip to England) and as time went on even their neighborhoods and homes.
  • On October 21, 2013 EQAT held the biggest bank branch action in U.S. history, with 16 actions at PNC branches as part of the PowerShift conference. Most of the bank actions were in Pittsburgh. PNC shut down numerous branches, even arresting seven EQAT supporters at one bank.
  • April 22, 2014, in a move widely credited to their worry about EQAT, PNC moved their shareholder meeting to the farthest corner of their bank footprint—to Tampa, Florida. The day of their shareholder meeting, 22 Floridians and 6 Philadelphians from EQAT held an action at the shareholder’s meeting.
  • On July 3, 2014 the chorus of support was blooming. Over 200 people joined EQAT for a direct action in Pittsburgh targeting seven local bank branches.
  • December 6, 2014 was the largest single day of action with over 30 actions in 12 states and the District of Columbia to demand that PNC Bank stop financing companies engaged in mountaintop removal coal mining. Participants ranged from 1 to 87-years-old with eleven pairs of parents and children. There were several account closings, including two Quaker congregations, bringing the total amount of money removed from PNC Bank by EQAT’s “Move Your Money” campaign to $3.6 million.