On Saturday, a group of Haverford students joined with the Earth Quaker Action Team (EQAT) to hold a “Teach-In” at the Narberth PNC bank branch in a national movement to protest PNC bank’s funding of mountaintop removal coal mining.
Founded in 2009, EQAT is a nonviolent social action organization that uses the Quaker tradition of nonviolence to work for environmental justice. On its website, EQAT explains that many of its efforts focus on PNC Bank because of the bank’s “historical connection to the Religious Society of Friends.” EQAT hopes to pressure the bank to cease funding coal companies that engage in mountaintop removal coal mining, an aggressive mining technique which harms the environment, local communities, and the economies of those communities.
The plan for Saturday’s “Teach-In” was for protesters go to the bank, explain the detrimental effects of mountaintop removal coal mining, and PNC bank’s economic connection to it. In preparation, a group of ten Haverford students met at 9 a.m. to assign duties and lay out a plan. The group then walked to the bus station and rode to the bank, where they began the protest at 11 a.m.
“Everyone was very positive, even though it was cold and rainy,” said Katie Rowlett ‘16, one of the students involved in organizing the event. “We were inside the bank for at least 15 minutes and were able to do everything we had planned.” says Katie Rowlett, one of the students who organized the event. Additionally she says that “the police were called and we left when they asked us to.”
Though some of EQAT’s protests have resulted in arrests, that was not the goal of Saturday’s event. Walter Sullivan, Haverford’s Director of Quaker Affairs, was arrested last October with EQAT during PowerShift, a civil disobedience protest held in a Pittsburgh PNC bank branch. Sullivan is a founding member of EQAT, and still serves on the board.
“The police were called, and we left when they asked us to,” says Rowlett.
The organizers and participants of the event hope to continue this connection with EQAT. Rowlett and others expressed that it is important to continue breaking the “Haver-bubble” through actions like this.