How To Divest Your City From DAPL

By the DeFundDAPL - Seattle Action Coalition

After a powerful grassroots campaign, led by the DeFund DAPL - Seattle Action Coalition, the City of Seattle became the first city in the country to break ties with a bank because of DAPL: meaning that Wells Fargo has now lost over $3 billion in business because of their support of the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Here is how they did it.

Could you push for your city to do something similar?

There are several key steps you need to take to getting your city to divest from the banks funding DAPL.

Step 1: Find Out Where Your City Banks

A team of volunteer researchers are looking at city banking contracts all over the country. Check this list to see if we have information on your city. If your city banks at any of the dozens of banks financing the Dakota Access Pipeline you have a campaign!

If we don’t have information for your city yet you can find out where your city banks by following the simple steps in our Divest Your City Research Project.

If the spreadsheet below isn't loading you can access it here.

Defund DAPL Research Report (one survey for each city) (Responses)

Step 2: Reach out to the First Peoples' In Your City

If you are a non-Native, or with a non-Native led organization, it is vital to reach out to the First Peoples', and First Peoples'-led organizations, of your city and ensure that they are involved from the very beginning.

Try and ensure that this is the first step you take, after researching where your City banks.

"Without the First People's it's just another fight. Leaving the prayer and connection to the land and water out. It's not right to organize in this way. We are the first environmentalists of these lands and the deep teachings of how to care for every little things."

Paul Cheoketen Wagner, DeFund DAPL Seattle Action Coalition

Step 3: Find a City Council Member Who Will Support the Ordinance

Who is the greatest people’s champion on your City Council? Who is the climate champion, or the greatest champion of Native American rights? Reach out to them and request a meeting. If you have already built a coalition by this point, or have started to generate media by having a series of protests at Wells Fargo branches, you be more likely to get the meeting. If you have any prominent locals who will speak out in support of your efforts, bring them to the meeting as well.

Once you are at the meeting explain to the Council Member (or their legislative aide, if that is who you end up meeting with) that the City of Seattle has already done this -- and that you would like to see your own City support Standing Rock by divesting from the big banks funding the pipeline.

Take with least two printed versions of the ordinance with you, so that you can leave them with the Council Member. And remember and follow up the meeting with a thank you email, that also included the ordinance.

Once you have a Council Member who has agreed to sponsor the bill, you are ready for the next vital step.

Step 4: Draft an Ordinance

You can use the Seattle ordinance here to help draft your own. Feel free to copy and paste as much as you would like. You can also contact us at

Step 5: Build a Coalition

In Seattle the coalition was made up of a collective of leading Native American activists, as well as local groups such as Ndns for Justice, 350 Seattle, Coalition of Anti-Racist Whites and Our Revolution. Reach out to the groups in your town that could be interested in working on this.

Step 6: Build Power and Momentum

In Seattle, we had a month in which we built power and momentum behind the campaign by having a series of decentralized protests outside of Wells Fargo branches -- in total we had over 30 protests at a dozen branches in a month.

Organize protests, pickets and other actions to build power and momentum behind the campaign.

In Seattle we had these smaller actions, lead up to a mass day of action where we had dozens of Wells Fargo customers close their accounts at the same time and a rally of hundreds in support.

Step 7: Build Grassroots Support Behind the Ordinance

This is closely tied to step 3, but once the ordinance is in discussion within City Council and is tabled for a vote, you will want to let Council Members know that there is a lot of support behind this ordinance.

Possible tools for doing this include creating form letters to ensure that large numbers of people are able to email their Council Members. Create tools that enable people to call their City Councils, such as these talking points that the DeFundDAPL coalition has used. You should also send out press releases throughout your campaign to try and generate media and grow interest in the campaign.

And finally, you should absolutely pack out City Council hearings whenever they are scheduled discussions on the ordinance.

And that’s it, that’s all.

If you have any questions about writing an ordinance, or any other part of the campaign, or if you would just like to stay in touch with the DeFundDAPL - Seattle Action Coalition, please email us at

We hope to put on a conference call with key organizers and City Council Members who supported the bill in the near future. Shoot us an email, if this is something you would like to be invited to!