Jane Fonda used the occasion of her 79th birthday to protest the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) project. The Oscar-winner joined other Hollywood stars Wednesday to decry big banks funding the project, which members of the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in North Dakota say will spoil crucial sacred sites on their land.
“We are here standing with Standing Rock for disinvestment,” Miss Fonda said in front of a Wells Fargo bank branch on Vine St. in Hollywood. “As a customer of your bank, I reject the notion of your supporting the Dakota Access Pipeline, which is unjust. The fact that Wells Fargo invests money in DAPL shows gross corporate negligence.”
Joined by about 200 other demonstrators, including many American Indians, Miss Fonda contended that banks must do “due diligence” before funding such projects. The actress added that DAPL parent company Energy Transfer Partners has a troubled history of oil spills.
Miss Fonda is no stranger to activist causes — or to controversy. In 1972 she traveled to North Vietnam, braving U.S. bombing to visit the so-called “Hanoi Hilton,” a notorious POW site for American soldiers. Miss Fonda earned the enmity of the veterans’ community by decrying U.S. war policy in the divided nation, and for what some saw as her disrespecting the military community.
Miss Fonda also supported the American Indian occupation of Alcatraz Island in 1969.
“Others should withdraw their money from Wells Fargo. Don’t forget how effective divestment was against apartheid in South Africa,” she said of the successful boycott of that country prior to the end of its officially sanctioned racial policies, which ended with the extraordinary election of Nelson Mandela.
“We have to tell Wells Fargo they have the people’s money, and the people don’t want their money used to pollute the earth,” said 86-year-old Dolores Huerta, who co-founded the United Farm Workers with Cesar Chavez in the 1960s. “We have to stand up to big financial institutions [to] not … hurt Mother Earth.
“We have to tell Wells Fargo ‘bye bye’ and put our money in credit unions. Let’s do it.”
Other celebrities in the march included “Capote” and “Being John Malkovich” star Catherine Keener, “Titanic” actress Frances Fisher and Lily Tomlin, Miss Fonda’s co-star in the comedy “9 to 5” and the current Netflix series “Grace and Frankie.”
“My friends have been shot with rubber bullets and maced. Anybody investing in these banks needs to pay attention,” said Tokata Iron Eyes, a Lakota youth who co-initiated the anti-DAPL movement.
“I regret that American history is full of torture of Native Americans,” said actor Mike Farrell, who played Capt. B.J. Hunnicutt in the popular war satire show “M*A*S*H.” “We need to respect them. Standing Rock impresses the hell out of me.”
Throughout the demonstration organizers repeatedly called for participants to remain peaceful. There were no altercations despite a police presence.
On Dec. 4 the Army Corps of Engineers denied the easement for the pipeline to be drilled under Lake Oahe, halting the construction project — at least temporarily.