MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Quite honestly, until I got an e-mail from the Rev. Billy Talen -- street theater minister for the anti-consumer movement -- I hadn't really thought about how the same banks that nearly turned America into an economic dust bowl in 2008 are the ones financing the earth-destroying companies that promote toxic climate change like heroin to junkies.
Talen and singers wearing toad heads performed a flash mob protest at a JP Morgan Chase branch in NYC last Thursday. There was a quick "presentation" (see photo to the right) and rapid exit to stay ahead of the police.
Alas, the Bloomberg NYPD is apparently instructed to take any mocking of a bank as a serious crime. The cops caught up with Talen and his music director Nehemiah Luckett on an F train platorm and handcuffed them. As Talen then recounts: "We were taken to jail, charged with disorderly conduct and riot. riot? We sat in the prison cell through the afternoon, waiting to go to The Tombs."
Alas, some more rational powers prevailed over the Bloomberg credo of allowing billionaires immunity and protection, but cracking down on those that would perform street theater in a Chase bank. In short, Talen and his choir leader were released, charges pending we presume.
Talen is hopeful that awareness is spreading that the banks too big to fail are failing our planet:
Everyone in the precinct house wanted an explanation of our action. When we said that Chase was financing climate disruption -- the cops agreed! The thing is... we believe that employees inside the big banks also know this. Most Americans know that the biosphere is dying by human violence, whether it is chemicals, bulldozer blades, or outright population growth. We are all behind this great structure that we cannot surmount; this corporate wall. But we know that the Earth crisis is a kind of cry. The Earth cries out to us -- or through us....We are The Earth's cry as we shout in the banks that finance all that death.
The good reverend of the "church of stop shopping" has a distinct point: "shouting inside a bank about its climate-killing investments is a good thing."
(Special thanks to Erik McGregor for permission to use the Thursday flash mob photograph inside JP Morgan Chase.)
About Rev. Billy Talen
"From sidewalk preaching in Times Square in 90's, Reverend Billy Talen has spent the last decade toggling between community activism and theatrical spectacle. The 35 voice "Stop Shopping Choir" has grown up around him as the climate crisis has brought a crescendo to the "stop shopping" theme. The shopping that matters most now is dirty coal, mountaintop removal, fracking and tar sands....The hush that has settled over the American landscape, as leader after leader cannot raise their voices - is answered by the preaching of tornados and fires and floods."