Portland’s Socially Responsible Investments Committee Recommends Putting Caterpillar on City’s Do-Not-Buy List

For Immediate Release:                                        Contact:  Ned Rosch
March 17, 2016                                                                        503-381-7011                                                       

Portland’s Socially Responsible Investments Committee Recommends Putting Caterpillar on City’s Do-Not-Buy List

Portland’s Socially Responsible Investments Committee (SRIC) voted – 4 in favor, 2 opposed – at its March 17th meeting to recommend that City funds should not be invested in Caterpillar, citing concern that Caterpillar Corporation violates a number of the City’s socially responsible investment criteria.

Caterpillar, which provides militarized bulldozers that are used to demolish Palestinian homes, has long been a target of human rights activists. Maxine Fookson, from Occupation-Free Portland, which pushed for Caterpillar to be placed on the Do-Not-Buy List, said “This is an important victory for human rights.  The SRIC today took a stand on the right side of history making it clear that companies, like Caterpillar, that are knowingly engaged in human rights violations in the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land should not be supported by Portland investments.” 

The SRIC’s recommendation was based on review of an MSCI analysis which rates companies for their investment potential and includes a screen that looks at environmental, social and governance (ESG) concerns.  In addition, the SRIC heard powerful testimony at their February meeting from supporters of Occupation-Free Portland, a campaign committed to getting Caterpillar, G4S, Hewlett-Packard and Motorola Solutions placed on Portland’s Do-Not-Buy List for their complicity in – and profiting from – the many human rights violations that are part of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands. 

Occupation-Free Portland spokesperson Peter Miller remarked, “The SRIC did the right thing because Caterpillar builds militarized bulldozers for the Israeli Defense Forces that are designed specifically to demolish Palestinian homes and tear up infrastructure (roads, sewage, electricity, water, and telecommunication cables) in Israeli-occupied Palestinian cities.  Caterpillar’s actions are human rights violations.  Our goal is to become an occupation-free city by not investing in companies like Caterpillar with horrible records on human rights.”

The SRIC is made up of seven citizens appointed by Portland’s City Council who are charged with implementing a socially responsible investment resolution passed in December 2014.  That resolution lists seven criteria – from environmental impacts to human rights violations -that need to be considered in determining which corporations should be included in Portland’s investment portfolio.

Later this year, the SRIC will recommend to the City Council a list of corporations that should be on Portland’s Do-Not-Buy List. Members of the City Council will consider the SRIC recommendations and make the final decision in this matter.

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