Press Release: City of Portland Votes to Cease Investments in All Corporate Securities Including Occupation Profiteer Caterpillar and Prison Profiteer Wells Fargo

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 23, 2016

Press Contacts: Maxine Fookson: info@jvp-pdx.org
Peter Miller: info@auphr.org

In Historic Vote City of Portland Votes to Suspend Investments in All Corporate Securities Including Occupation Profiteer Caterpillar and Prison Profiteer Wells Fargo

In a unanimous vote on Wednesday 12/21/16, Portland’s City Council halted investments in all corporate securities including Caterpillar and Wells Fargo, two companies of particular concern for violations of multiple criteria of the City’s Socially Responsible Investments (SRI) policy. Occupation-Free Portland, a coalition of Palestinian human rights organizations and church groups, and the Portland Prison Divestment Coalition, convened by Enlace, and representing 25 leading racial and migrant justice groups, with support from the environmental group, 350pdx.org, joined forces to urge the City Council to make the historic move to place Caterpillar and Wells Fargo on the City’s do-not-buy list.

The coalition of groups successfully urged the City Council to support the recommendations of the appointed Socially Responsible Investment Committee (SRIC) to divest from Caterpillar and Wells Fargo for violating criteria set forth in the city’s SRI policy.

As the hearing opened, Commissioner Steve Novick introduced an amendment to add Wells Fargo and Caterpillar to the City’s Do-Not-Buy list. Commissioner Amanda Fritz immediately added an additional amendment to stop all investments in corporate securities until the new City Council can return to this issue in 2017.

The City Council’s unanimous approval of Fritz’s amendment means that not only Caterpillar and Wells Fargo but every corporation is now ineligible for Portland investments.

“After today’s decision, it will be important for Caterpillar and other corporations to have discussions in their board rooms about their corporate conduct, and decide to make the change to not sell products and services to human rights abusers,” noted Palestinian-American lawyer Hala Gores.

Weighing in on the Portland City Council decision, Jewish Voice for Peace Rabbinical Council, comprised of over 40 Rabbis and Rabbinical Students from across North America and Israel/Palestine, stated, “Many of us in the Jewish community deeply appreciate the solidarity of people of conscience in pursuing conscientious nonviolent strategies, such as socially responsible investing as a path towards building a more ethical and sustainable world. Thank you, members of the City Council, for your commitment to ethical investing and for setting an example for other cities of what socially responsible investing looks like.”

Occupation-Free Portland Steering Committee member Maxine Fookson added, “We applaud City Commissioner Steve Novick, who, in his opening statement, countered the accusations by opponents to placing Caterpillar on the do not buy list that Occupation-Free Portland is motivated by anti-Semitism and the reference to the Jews within OFP as being ‘fringe’.”

Novick said, “I share the desire of folks in Jewish Voice for Peace” (part of Occupation-Free Portland) “to make Israel a better country. Frankly I was disturbed a few weeks ago to hear them referred to as ‘fringe Jews’”.

In earlier hearings, and in written testimony, the broad coalition of groups and community members presented compelling evidence of Caterpillar’s and Wells Fargo’s violations of human rights, tax avoidance, unfair labor practices, environmental desecration and corrupt corporate governance.

Occupation-Free Portland (OFP) focused on the case of Caterpillar, a company that knowingly sells its militarized D9 bulldozers to the Israeli military for use in home demolitions, destruction of agricultural land and destruction of Palestinian city and village infrastructure.

The United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights state that corporations are responsible for human rights violations – even those committed by their customers’ use of their products, if the corporation knew or should have known of such use by the customer. For over a decade Caterpillar has been informed of concerns with the use of its D9 bulldozer in the Israeli occupation.

Occupation-Free Portland Steering Committee member Curt Bell said, “The City’s vote yesterday afternoon makes me proud to live in a city that refuses to invest hard-earned tax dollars in companies that not only violate human rights but also desecrate the earth.”

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Enlace: Portland City Council Votes to Stop Investing in Wells Fargo, Caterpillar and All Corporate Securities

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

December 21, 2016

Press Contacts:
Jamie Trinkle, Enlace
jamie@enlaceintl.org | (503)-757-4375
Maxine Fookson, Occupation-Free Portland
mfookson@gmail.com | (503)-381-7465

Portland City Council Votes to Stop Investing in Wells Fargo, Caterpillar and All Corporate Securities

December 21 – Portland City Council voted today to temporarily halt investing in all corporate securities, after broad community pressure to end investments in prison lender Wells Fargo and Caterpillar. Earlier this year, the Socially Responsible Investments Committee (SRIC)  recommended the city end investments in ten of the “worst of the worst” corporations, including Wells Fargo and Caterpillar. The Portland Prison Divestment Coalitionconvened by Enlace and representing 25 local leading racial and migrant justice organizationsOccupation-Free Portland, and clergy applauded the city’s step to align its investments with its values by stopping investments in Caterpillar and Wells Fargo. The city vote today means Portland is joining the chorus of local governments ending investments in Wells Fargo, and is a leader in ending ties with Caterpillar, the company Trump has said will build his wall to keep out the millions of immigrants he plans to forcibly deport. 

Currently, the City of Portland has investments in both Wells Fargo and Caterpillar, yet both companies fail to meet multiple criteria of Portland’s Socially Responsible Investments (SRI) Policy. City investments in these two companies raised concerns around environmental desecration, weapons production, abusive labor practices, human rights abuses and corporate governance. Commissioner Steve Novick introduced an amendment today to add Wells Fargo and Caterpillar to the city’s do-not-buy list. Commissioner Amanda Fritz immediately added a friendly amendment to stop all investments in corporate securities until the city council can return to this issue in the first quarter of 2017. Fritz’s amendment replaced Novick’s resolution and amendment. The city’s unanimous decision today will stop new investments in all corporate securities until the council reconsiders this issue in 2017.

“We applaud the city council decision and this action confirms our commitment to progressive social values and a true commitment to sanctuary. We are proud to be part of a national movement that is challenging the anti-immigrant, racist, xenophobic and antisemitic ideology of the Trump Administration,” said Cecelia Beckwith, volunteer with Enlace, convener of the Prison Divestment Campaign. 

“As a city employee who works with youth and encourages those youth to seek work with the city, I’m relieved that the city is taking a step towards not investing in Wells Fargo and private prison lenders. I won’t have to wonder how much of my paycheck is coming from the prison industrial complex,” said Leila Haile, Parks and Recreation Employee and organizer with Sankofa Collective Northwest. 

Wells Fargo is one of the principal financiers of the private prison industry. Private prison companies use the bank’s credit to expand and lobby for increased criminalization and incarceration which disproportionately impacts Black and Brown communities. Wells Fargo’s financing institutions with a well documented history of human rights abuses coupled with their investment in the Dakota Access Pipeline and their fraudulent account scandals place Wells Fargo in violation of Portland’s SRI criteria. Today, Portland joins the States of Illinois, OhioCalifornia, and Massachusetts, and cities of ChicagoSan FranciscoSeattleSacramentoMinneapolis in cutting ties with the bank.  

Caterpillar’s human rights violations include: use of their militarized bulldozers to demolish Palestinian homes, lands and infrastructure; environmental concerns due to contracts to build the Dakota Access Pipeline and environmental degradation from mining and dam construction with Caterpillar equipment in Central America; tax avoidance; anti-labor practices; weapons manufacturing; and violations of corporate ethics for refusing to engage with church and human rights groups about the manufacturing and use of their their products to violate the human rights of Palestinians.

“After today’s decision, it will be important for Caterpillar and other corporations to have discussions in their board rooms about their corporate conduct, and decide to make the change to not sell products and services to human rights abusers,” testified Palestinian lawyer Hala Gores. 

This is a critical moment in our nation’s history. As vulnerable communities organize in anticipation of the incoming Trump administration, Portland’s action today is representative of bold local leadership to stand firmly in speaking out against practices that trample human rights, corporate ethics, and desecration of the environment. 

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Professional photos and video of today’s hearing and vote available upon request. 

The Portland Prison Divestment Coalition, convened by Enlace, is a collaboration of the city’s leading Black, immigrant, LGBTQ, faith, civil rights and labor organizations. The Coalition, and the National Prison Divestment Campaign has gained widespread support from a public that is outraged by the targeting of Black and brown communities by local law enforcement and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE),  and the sprawling incarceration system that private prisons operate within. The coalition is composed of: ACLU Portland, American Friends Service Committee, Black Lives Matter Portland, Causa Oregon, Enlace, First Unitarian Church, Interfaith Movement for Immigrant Justice, NAACP – Portland, National Lawyers Guild Portland, Northwest Accountability Project, Occupation Free PDX, Oregon Education Association, Oregon Immigrant Activists, Parkrose Community United Church of Christ, Partnership for Safety and Justice, Portland Association of Teachers, Portland Central America Solidarity Committee, PDX Jobs with Justice, Sankofa Collective Northwest, SEIU Local 49, SEIU Local 503, Unite Oregon, Urban League of Portland, Voz: Workers’ Rights Education Project. Together these faith, labor, and community organizations form a powerful force for what is right in our community. We represent over ten thousand Portlanders.

The Prison Divestment Campaign was convened by Enlace in 2011 in response to the role that private prisons play in the expansion of criminalization and incarceration of immigrants and people of color in the United States. The campaign has over 200 endorsers nationally who represent immigrant, Black, LGBT, labor, and community groups.

An Open Letter to the Portland City Council From JVP Rabbinical Council

An Open Letter to the Portland City Council
From the Jewish Voice for Peace Rabbinical Council (source)

“No city in the United States should be invested in corporations that profit from military violence. Compassion and equity is what we seek. Saving, and not destroying lives is what we are commanded to pursue.”  Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb

We write to you as members of the Jewish Voice for Peace Rabbinical Council to encourage your efforts to place Caterpillar on Portland’s Do Not Buy List. We applaud your ethical commitment to socially responsible investing, and want to communicate our support as Jewish leaders who work for justice and peace for the people of Israel and Palestine.

We know you will likely be criticized by groups that claim to speak for the entire Jewish community. However, as Jewish leaders, we believe there is by no means a uniformity of opinion on this issue in the American Jewish community. There is, in fact, a growing desire within the North American Jewish community to end our silence over Israel’s almost 50-year occupation of Palestine and to speak out for the rights of Palestinians.

We encourage the placement of Caterpillar on Portland’s Do Not Buy List for its reprehensible track record and violations of six of the seven criteria established by Portland’s Socially Responsible Investment Committee. A few of the company’s human rights violations include: use of their bulldozers to demolish Palestinian homes and infrastructure, environmental concerns around contracts to build the Dakota Access Pipeline, and environmental degradation from mining and dam construction in Central America with Caterpillar equipment. Caterpillar has also participated in tax avoidance, anti-labor practices and weapons manufacturing.

To invest your own resources in corporations which pursue your vision of a just and peaceful world, and to withdraw your resources from those which contradict this vision is a bold move, and one that we want you to know is supported by a large, and ever growing Jewish community committed to social and environmental justice.

Contrary to what you may have heard, many of us in the Jewish community deeply appreciate the solidarity of people of conscience in pursuing conscientious nonviolent strategies, such as socially responsible investing as a path towards building a more ethical and sustainable world. Thank you, members of the City Council, for your commitment to ethical investing and for setting an example for other cities of what socially responsible investing looks like.

With prayers for peace, and with appreciation for your commitment to a more just world,

JVP Rabbinical Council, a council of over 40 Rabbis and Rabbinical Students from across North America and Israel/Palestine.

Clergy Letter to Mayor Hales and Portland City Council

Dear Mayor Hales and Portland City Council Members:

As leaders in the Portland faith community, we commend the Portland City Council for its socially responsible investment (SRI) policy. Implementing this comprehensive SRI framework and process makes Portland a model city for other municipalities across the country. As Rev. William Sinkford said at the November 30 hearing, “investments are moral decisions.”

The Human Rights Commission and the Socially Responsible Investment Committee invested many hours of study and heard citizen testimony examining corporations whose troublesome practices make Portland’s investments inappropriate and misaligned with the city’s values. Now it is the City Council’s turn to assume leadership in response to the Human Rights Commission and SRI Committee’s thoughtful recommendations and add all 10 recommended companies to the city’s Do Not Buy list.

The multitudes of voices heard in support of full adoption of the SRI Committee’s recommendation at the city council hearing represent a diverse segment of Portland’s population directly impacted by the corporate profiteering of the 10 recommended companies. We heard powerful testimony from immigrant workers, from those facing the impacts of our unjust system of mass incarceration, from Palestinian refugees, from indigenous water protectors recently returned from Standing Rock—all urging the council to fully adopt the recommendation.

Including all 10 companies on the Do Not Buy List would remove Portland investments from two corporations that are of particular concern to us. Those named at the recent three-hour hearing as “the worst of the worst” in violation of established principles and values, Caterpillar and Wells Fargo, were identified repeatedly by dozens of citizens who testified before the council November 30.

In response to the destruction of land and violence against peaceful water protectors in North Dakota, the Portland City Council has joined Mayor Hales in solidarity with indigenous activists protesting the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline that crosses the Standing Rock Reservation. It would be consistent with the resolution in support of the Water Protectors that Portland cut its funding to Caterpillar, a company that is hugely involved in the pipeline construction and that has no concerns about the ethics of this project.

Caterpillar’s violation of environmental, labor, and human rights standards is well documented. Caterpillar was ranked in the top 100 toxic air polluters based on EPA records. Because of illegal home and infrastructure demolitions in Palestine and involvement in digging the North Dakota Access Pipeline, Caterpillar has earned widespread denouncement across the country. Caterpillar violates six of the seven standards established by the city council to measure socially responsible corporate ethics.

Additionally, American Christian denominations including the Presbyterian Church (USA) and the United Church of Christ have divested from Caterpillar, following many years of attempted engagement to urge cessation of its military contracts with Israel.
Wells Fargo is also one of the worst of the worst. This bank is one of the primary financiers of private prison corporations. It is widely known that private prison corporations operate from a profit motive, and have been found to widely violate the human rights of those incarcerated in these institutions.

As local faith leaders, we commend you for entering the unavoidably controversial arena of socially responsible investment practices. We urge you to act out of love and compassion rather than fear. We urge you to listen to those who are suffering directly at the hands of these profiteering companies. As Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

Inevitably, bold leadership must prove capable of principled decisions in determining how city funds are invested. Please do not undermine the model process you have set in motion—adopt the full recommendations from the SRI subcommittee. This decision may be politically difficult, but it is not particularly complicated. Years of engagement by churches and community groups document these companies’ unwillingness to meet Portland standards for protection of human rights, respect for labor and environmental standards, and enlightened corporate ethics.

We appeal to you: Do the right thing today.
We also pledge to you: We in the faith community will have your back.

The Reverend Diane Dulin, United Church of Christ Central Pacific Conference Wider Church Ministries
The Reverend Canon Richard Toll, Episcopal Priest (Retired)
The Reverend Catherine L. Alder, United Church of Christ
The Reverend Marla McGarry-Lawrence, Episcopal Deacon
The Reverend John Newton Hickox, United Church of Christ
The Reverend Elizabeth Durant, United Church of Christ Central Pacific Conference Justice & Witness Ministries, First Congregational United Church of Christ-Portland
The Reverend Doctor James Moiso, Presbyterian Church (USA)
The Reverend Dan Simmons, National Director for World Vision Jerusalem (retired)
The Reverend Lynne Smouse Lopez, Pastor, Ainsworth United Church Of Christ
The Reverend Lawrence​ Hansen, Cana House
The Reverend Don Frueh, Parkrose Community United Church of Christ
The Reverend Jill E. James, Lutheran (ELCA) Clergy (Retired Chaplain)
The Reverend Doctor Constance Hammond, Episcopal Church
The Reverend Canon Joseph A. Dubay, Episcopal Priest (Retired)
The Reverend John A. Shuck, Cascades Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church (USA)
The Reverend Denise Andersen, Clackamas United Church of Christ
The Reverend Deacon Stephen Denny
The Reverend Forster W. Freeman, Lake Oswego, Presbyterian Church (USA) and the United Church of Christ, D.Min. (Retired)
The Reverend Bill Sinkford, Sr. Minister, First Unitarian Church Portland
The Reverend Jessie Smith, Vicar, St. Anne’s Episcopal Church
The Reverend Ron Werner, Jr, Oregon Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
The Reverend Brian E. Brandt, Ph.D., Lutheran (ELCA), Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church, Beaverton

Press Release: Occupation-Free Portland Begins Ad Campaign on Trimet Buses

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Occupation-Free Portland Begins Ad Campaign on Trimet Buses
Ads Link Rights Violations at Standing Rock and Palestine

For immediate release

Contact: info@auphr.org

Occupation-Free Portland, a coalition of faith, social justice and peace organizations, today announced the launch of an ad campaign on Trimet buses serving the Portland, Oregon, metropolitan area. The ad reads, “Portland: Divest from Caterpillar. Caterpillar Violates Human Rights from Standing Rock to Palestine.” The ad shows a photograph of a Caterpillar bulldozer that was used to desecrate a sacred burial site on land promised to the Standing Rock Sioux nation by an 1851 treaty. It also shows a photograph of a Palestinian child left in the ruins of her home demolished by a Caterpillar bulldozer.

“We wanted to show that Caterpillar is complicit in serious human rights violations that are contrary to Portland’s Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) policy,” said Maxine Fookson, a member of Jewish Voice for Peace and the steering committee of Occupation-Free Portland.

The ad campaign comes as Portland’s City Council prepares to vote on December 15 on whether the city will continue to invest in Caterpillar. Since 2014, the city has invested more than $110 million in commercial paper issued by Caterpillar.

In October, the city’s Socially Responsible Investments Committee (SRIC) issued its final report to the City Council and found Caterpillar in “violation of Sioux’s human rights” and Palestinian human rights. The SRIC called out findings by the United Nations Human Rights Council showing that Caterpillar’s D9 bulldozer was used by the Israeli military to violate UN agreements and to carry out “attacks on civilians.”

The SRIC is a volunteer committee that advises the city on its investments and recommends that companies be placed on the Do-Not-Buy list if they breach the criteria established under the SRI policy. The committee found that Caterpillar violated six of the seven criteria, including extreme tax avoidance and harm to the environment in addition to human rights.

“Portland has rightly condemned the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) and issued an official proclamation supporting the Standing Rock Sioux,” noted Rod Such, another member of the OFP steering committee. “It makes no sense to invest in a company that is helping build the pipeline you’ve just condemned. It makes no sense to ban investments in fossil fuel companies, as Portland did earlier this year, and yet put $110 million into a company that specializes in extracting fossil fuels.” Caterpillar’s Oil and Gas Division sells and leases portable generators used for fracking shale oil, and seven Caterpillar dealers directly leased 250 earth excavators to the company building DAPL.

Caterpillar’s D9 bulldozer is sold to the Israeli military through the U.S. military sales program and is weaponized by a Caterpillar subsidiary in Israel. Numerous human rights and faith organizations, including Human Rights Watch, United Church of Christ and Presbyterian USA, have called on Caterpillar for more than a decade to cease these sales. Since 1967 Caterpillar bulldozers have been used to destroy more than 12,000 Palestinian homes and businesses, leaving more than 50,000 Palestinians homeless in blatant violations of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which both Israel and the United States have ratified.

The bus ad campaign began on Nov. 29, coinciding with the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. The campaign is scheduled to run for one month. The ad was developed in collaboration with the Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign (SeaMAC) and was cosponsored by Americans United for Palestinian Human Rights, a Portland-based group, and Jewish Voice for Peace-Portland Chapter. Photos of the ad are available upon request.

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ASPSU Press Release: Associated Students of Portland State University Pass Divestment Resolution In Support of Palestinian Human Rights

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

October 26, 2016

Contact:
Layla Abdel-Jawad
971-304-8426 | labdelja@gmail.com                   

Associated Students of Portland State University Pass Divestment Resolution In Support of Palestinian Human Rights

Portland, OR (October 26, 2016)— The student senate of the Associated Students of Portland State University (ASPSU) passed a resolution earlier this week brought forward by Students United for Palestinian Equal Rights (SUPER). The resolution calls on the university to divest from Israeli apartheid by an overwhelming vote of 22-2, with 1 abstention.

The resolution was passed after seven years of work by SUPER, which presented to the student senate. The central focus of the resolution is to prohibit investment in four corporations complicit in the oppression of Palestinians: Hewlett-Packard, Motorola Solutions, G4S and Caterpillar.  Hewlett-Packard provides biometric ID systems to the Israeli military that enables discriminatory treatment of Palestinians, playing a similar role that Polaroid did in apartheid South Africa. Motorola provides surveillance and communication systems supporting Israel’s occupation and illegal settlements. G4Sprovides systems and support for Israel’s imprisonment of political prisoners and children under unjust military rule. Caterpillar provides militarized bulldozers, which are complicit with numerous human rights violations and are used to destroy Palestinian homes, orchards, and civilian infrastructure.

It was resolved that the ASPSU call on Portland State University to divest any current and future holdings in the companies mentioned above, and any other company deemed to profit from human rights violations against Palestinians. Furthermore, the resolution more specially resolved, “that the Associated Students of Portland State University ASPSU calls on the University to put in place an internal investment screen which prohibits investment in any company that provides weapons or equipment used for violent acts that target either Israeli or Palestinian civilians; provides equipment used for the displacement of Palestinians from their homes or the construction and maintenance of illegal and unethical Israeli government authorized settlements; or supplies equipment used for the construction or maintenance of the Separation Wall in the West Bank and Jerusalem.”

The passing of this resolution means the students of Portland State University have spoken: moving forward, the university should cease investing in these companies. “These four companies aren’t only responsible for human rights violations in Palestine, but all over the world,” according to SUPER. “They are also involved in the U.S. prison system, immigration and human rights violations all around the globe.”

We believe in justice and equality for all people, and are proud that our campus is now on the right side of history. We hope our university’s decision may encourage others to also stand for human rights. We urge other members of the university community and other universities to pursue the same path of justice, and to continue to make history towards a free Palestine.

For more information:
Hewlett-Packard: http://investigate.afsc.org/company/hewlett-packard-company
Motorola Solutions: http://investigate.afsc.org/company/motorola-solutions-inc
G4S: http://investigate.afsc.org/company/g4s-plc
Caterpillar: http://investigate.afsc.org/company/caterpillar-inc

Associated Students of PSU (ASPSU) Overwhelmingly Demand Divestment

The following is the text of the resolution adopted overwhelmingly on Oct. 24, 2016, by the Associated Students of Portland State University (ASPSU) calling on the university to divest from Caterpillar, G4S, Hewlett-Packard and Motorola Solutions due to their complicity in human rights violations in Israel/Palestine.

ASSOCIATED STUDENTS OF PORTLAND STATE UNIVERSITY RESOLUTION  Download
AUTHOR (S): Students United for Palestinian Equal Rights
CONTRIBUTOR (S):
TITLE OF RESOLUTION: Resolution to recommend divestment from companies involved in
Israeli military occupation
SPONSOR(S) OF RESOLUTION: ASPSU International Affairs Committee
DATE OF INTRODUCTION TO ASPSU: 05/23/2016
DATE OF FINAL VOTE: Oct. 24, 2016
FINAL VOTE COUNT: 22 in favor, 2 opposed, 1 abstention

THE ASSOCIATED STUDENTS OF PORTLAND STATE UNIVERSITY RESOLVE TO:

1.01 WHEREAS, the Associated Students of Portland State University (ASPSU), as part of a
diverse academic institution, is deeply committed to standards of ethics, justice, equality and
human rights for all as clearly defined in the United Nations Declaration of Universal Human
Rights;
1.02 WHEREAS, ASPSU is concerned about violations of human rights anywhere and the protection of civilian lives and property in our nation and in the global community;
1.03 WHEREAS, precedence set by the international student movement in solidarity with anti-Apartheid organizers in South Africa advocated for the divestment of companies who profited from Apartheid, and through their support contributed to the abolition of Apartheid in South Africa and the creation of a coalition government to ensure the equal rights of the Indigenous population;
1.04 WHEREAS, Black and Indigenous activists have spoken in support for Palestinian equal rights, connecting the struggles of Palestinians to the struggle against racial and ethnic oppression in the United States and elsewhere, including former political prisoner and President of South Africa Nelson Mandela;
1.05 WHEREAS, Portland State University in 2015 adopted a socially responsible investment screen, in which the Endowment pursues investments that fit within the criteria of Environment, Social and Governance;
1.06 WHEREAS, ASPSU has precedence for divestment from companies expressing unethical business practices with our previous divestment from fossil fuels;
1.07 WHEREAS, Caterpillar Inc. sells specially manufactured bulldozers (D9 bulldozers) to the Israeli military. These bulldozers are directly sold to the Israeli military as part of the U.S. military aid to Israel. They are equipped with armor and weapons by Caterpillar Israel, the company’s sole representative in Israel. These military D9 bulldozers are used as weapons of urban warfare by specific army D9 units to demolish Palestinian homes, entire villages, city neighborhoods and agricultural land. One of these armored bulldozers was responsible for crushing to death Evergreen University student Rachel Corrie in 2003, while she stood in front of a Palestinian home to prevent its demolition;
1.08 WHEREAS, G4S plc, the world’s largest private security firm, through its subsidiary G4S Israel (Hashmira), provides security systems and services to all branches of the Israeli government, including to the Israeli Ministry of Defense headquarters in Tel Aviv, the Israeli armored corps base of Nachshonim, and to several prisons housing Palestinian prisoners who are being held without charge under “Administrative Detention”. The company also provides security systems for the Kishon (“Al Jalameh”) and Jerusalem (“Russian Compound”) detention and interrogation facilities. Human rights organizations have collected evidence showing that Palestinian prisoners are regularly subjected to torture in these facilities. G4S Israel has also provided Israeli illegal and unethical military checkpoints with security equipment, as well as provided guards to businesses in Israeli government authorized settlements, constructed in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, in the West Bank. Although the company stated in 2014 that it would not renew some of its contracts, as of today, no change in company operations has been registered on the ground;
1.09 WHEREAS, HP Inc. and Hewlett Packard Enterprise were contracted (when still a single company) to maintain a biometric identification and scanning systems that is used by the Israeli military. Both companies are contracted with the Israeli military to maintain and support the ‘Basel System’ of biometric scanning that is installed at checkpoints throughout the Palestinian Territories. These checkpoints restrict Palestinians’ freedom of movement, including preventing them from working, going to school or seeing family members. Furthermore, HP Inc. is the sole supplier to the Israeli military of computer servers and laptops, and Hewlett Packard Enterprise manages the Israeli population registrar, a system that differentiates between citizens based on religion and ethnicity, thus enabling systematic discrimination against Palestinian citizens of Israel;
1.10 WHEREAS, Motorola Solutions is profiting from the Israeli military occupation through providing communication systems to the Israeli military. In addition, the company provides electronic surveillance systems and radar fences to the illegal and unethical settlements, designed to make vast areas of the West Bank inaccessible to Palestinians even when they are the legal owners of the land;
1.11 WHEREAS, the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land has been entrenched since 1948. During the 1948 Palestine War over 700,000 Palestinians were expelled and forced to leave their homes due to military advances in what has been called the Nakba. Many Palestinians to this day live as refugees in a diaspora and are not allowed the right of return to Palestine. 1948 was also the year of the Deir Yassin massacre in which over 100 Palestinians – men, women and children, in a small village of 600 people were killed by paramilitary forces. Under Israeli occupation, Palestinians are subjected to repeated violations of human rights as defined by the UN Declaration of Universal Human Rights, numerous articles of the Geneva Convention, and the UN Declaration of the Rights of the Child. Violations of rights include: loss of land due to the construction of large Israeli government authorized settlements, segregated roads for settlers, confiscation of valued agricultural and grazing lands, systematic displacement of the population into small, non contiguous geographic enclaves separated by barriers and checkpoints; gross inequality in the amount of water allocated to Palestinians, theft of the land’s natural resources by the occupier; severe and arbitrary travel restrictions; limited access to holy sites; segregated roads; demolition of Palestinian homes; destruction of crops, including the burning of olive trees, by settlers and the Israeli army; and arbitrary arrest, mistreatment when in custody, and imprisonment without due process of Palestinians, including children;
1.12 WHEREAS, the Palestinian population of Gaza is subject to particularly harsh violations of human rights through repeated military attacks using disproportionate force. Israeli military incursions occur on a regular basis. Every few years, these incursions are escalated and are intense and overwhelming to the Gaza civilian population as well as to all emergency and safety services. Israel’s military has caused the death of thousands of civilians (in 2014, for example over 2000 Gazans were killed by Israeli forces, including over 500 children). The Israeli government’s siege on Gaza restricts movement and prevents the entry of products essential to Gazans’ well being,causing major shortages in essential goods. The siege also includes strict control of electronic communications, as well as Israeli military control of air and sea space around Gaza;
1.13 WHEREAS, the Israeli government has annexed Palestinian East Jerusalem denying building permits to Palestinians, as well as revoking the residency rights of many of Jerusalem’s Palestinian citizens;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED
2.1 BE IT RESOLVED THAT the Associated Students of Portland State University (ASPSU) calls on Portland State University to divest any current and future holdings in the following companies and any other company that has been found to profit from human rights violations against Palestinian civilians by the Israeli government , including but not limited to : Caterpillar Inc., Motorola Solutions, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, HP Inc., and G4S plc.;
2.2 BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT the Associated Students of Portland State University ASPSU calls on the University to put in place an internal investment screen which prohibits investment in any company that provides weapons or equipment used for violent acts that target either Israeli or Palestinian civilians; provides equipment used for the displacement of Palestinians from their homes or the construction and maintenance of illegal and unethical Israeli government authorized settlements; or supplies equipment used for the construction or maintenance of the Separation Wall in the West Bank and Jerusalem.

Rev. Catherine Alder’s letter to Portland City Council

By: Rev. Catherine Alder

Dear Portland City Council,

      I have traveled to Palestine/Israel repeatedly and have seen the destruction caused by the use of the D9’s made by Caterpillar. Caterpillar D9’s are not the cute little bulldozers in the farm fields. They are two-stories tall war machines and destroy Palestinian homes, orchards, water infrastructure, and fields.

     I personally have seen the destruction of homes caused by Caterpillar. I have witnessed the growth over the years of the so-called “Security Fence” which is a huge wall built on Palestinian land by destroying Palestinian homes and land with Caterpillar bulldozers. That Wall blocks families from schools, hospitals, farmland, holy land sites, family and former neighbors. 

    I have witnessed the destruction in Gaza of Palestinian homes while people run to grab their things as a Cat D9 aims at their home.

    Now we have Caterpillar in use destroying sacred land at Standing Rock, South Dakota, once again violating human rights.

Three stories to illustrate:

  1. Daoud Nassar is a Palestinian Christian living in Beit Sahour, the town next to Bethlehem. He is one of the most gentle Christians I know. He invites settlers into his cave, the only place he is allowed to have as a home on his own land. He says to his settler neighbors, “Come in. Come in, but leave your guns outside.” He runs a camp on his land for children to learn nonviolence. People come from around the world to plant trees in this nonviolent camp called Tent of Nations.  His olive tree and fruit orchards have been in the family for generations dating back beyond the Ottoman Empire. Recently, Israel slapped a sign on his property stating that this land now belongs to Israel. While this dispute was in court, and while he was visiting friends in Seattle, WA., Caterpillar bulldozers were used to destroy 1,500 of his trees, ripe for harvest. This was a huge loss of income. Four illegal settlements (according to international law) grow now around his land as more Palestinian homes and land are bulldozed by Caterpillar to create them.
  2. The second story: I met with a family in Bethlehem. The teenage daughter pointed out her window at a fence snaking behind the apartment building where the family lives. She said, “We used to play and have picnics on that land which is ours across that fence. Now it is guarded by soldiers and we cannot farm it or picnic on it.”  Caterpillar had been used to make a path to build that fence cutting off that family from their land. That story is one of thousands of Palestinians’ stories that are similar. 
  3. The third story:  Caterpillar was used to demolish a doctor’s family home in Gaza. Our own American citizen, Rachel Corrie, was standing in front of that home and was bulldozed to death as the Cat D9 ran over her. There is a video of her being seen by the soldier as he advanced the Cat D9 and did not stop. This is not an isolated incident as many lives have been lost as people try to protect their homes and property. 

      Caterpillar meets 6 of the 7 criteria to divest laid out by the SRIC. You will be in very good company if you choose to do so.  There are a growing number of religious denominations which have divested from Caterpillar including the United Church of Christ, of which I am a member and pastor. 

I urge you to divest from Caterpillar and place it on a Do Not Buy list for its numerous human rights violations.

     Peace,

     Rev. Catherine Alder