While I am not associated with the No Justice, No Pride group I support its efforts against certain corporate involvement and financial support of Pride activities. Most recently No Justice, No Pride activists blocked Washington’ DC’s Capitol Pride Parade not once but three times.
According to Dcist.com, Jen Deerinwater, a No Justice, No Pride participant and a two-spirit member of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, denounced several Capital Pride sponsors including the federal agencies FBI, NSA, CIA, and federal contractor Lockheed Martin for native genocide. She also mentioned Wells Fargo for its support of the Dakota Access Pipeline. Deerinwater might have also criticized former President Barack Obama who, in his final days in office, deployed federal agents to brutalize peaceful protesters in North Dakota.
Where I agree with Deerinwater and No Justice, No Pride is in their view the government brutalizes U.S. citizens for their political beliefs. Tea Party members who were brutalized by Obama’s Internal Revenue Agents might also agree with No Justice, No Pride.
I agree with No Justice, No Pride that corporate bad actor Wells Fargo should be banned from Pride activities in DC and around the nation. Disclosure: I am a dissenting stockholder in Wells Fargo. I criticized Wells’ predatory lending practices before and after they became public. Wells’ corrupt lending practices hurt tens of thousands of borrowers including customers of color and the LGBT community.
When Wells Fargo was exposed for creating accounts for customers without their consent, former corrupt CEO John Stumpf was forced to resign and forego multi-million dollar bonuses the corporation planned to bestow on him for his “leadership.” I believe Stumpf and other Wells Fargo executives should go to prison.
The economic damage Wells Fargo caused individuals, businesses and communities across the country is inestimable. Bad credit scores increase the cost of borrowing for those affected and this translates to less disposable income, less charitable donations and less support of community organizations like schools, houses of worship and others.
Wells Fargo’s business decision to support the Dakota Access Pipeline is controversial and has drawn protest supporters from Hollywood. Activists in many cities, like New York, have convinced mayors and city council members to divest from Wells Fargo over the pipeline. Whether this amounts to “native genocide” as Deerinwater said, I am not qualified to address.
Wells Fargo’s consumer credit fraud, however, was a violation of state and federal laws and it was outright theft for which the corporation should not be rewarded nor trusted to manage with any government financial accounts. Big Gay organizations which place their seal of approval on Wells Fargo’s employment practices should immediately remove any such endorsements until they are convinced the corporation has adequately compensated individuals adversely impacted by the massive customer fraud.
I am a dissenting stockholder in two other corporations, both bad actors, who are Pride supporters: Walgreens and Starwood Hotels. Myissues with Walgreens include sales of tobacco products and for repeated fines by the federal Drug Enforcement Administration.
I provided the editor with a letter from former Walgreens CEO Jeff Rein where he shamelessly defends the corporation’s right to peddle addictive and deadly tobacco products. I urge the editor to post Walgreens’s letter so all can read it. I wrote the corporation at the time San Francisco’s politicians banned tobacco sales at city pharmacies.
According to the Wall Street Journal, in 2013 Walgreen Co. agreed to pay $80 in civil penalties for violation of the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA). Walgreens paid the fines for its illegal distribution of highly addictive painkillers in Florida. According to the DEA website, https://www.dea.gov/divisions/mia/2013/mia061113.shtml, Walgreens had an “unprecedented number of record-keeping and dispensing violations under the Act” for prescription painkillers, including opioids. This is one of many cases against Walgreens for its “violations” of the CSA.
When Walgreens announced support of blood testing by nutcase CEO Elizabeth Homes of Theranos, I immediately objected because industry reports questioned the reliability of the tests and the Theranos testing methods. The Wall Street Journal reported the same problems. What, if anything, was Walgreens CEO Stefano Pessina thinking when he endorsed this fraudulent medical testing? I do not believe the LGBT community should be taking money from a corporate crook like Walgreens.
Starwood Hotels, now owned by Marriot Corporation, was successfully sued many times by female employees and guests. Former CEO Richard Nanula posed as porn star “Mr. Rich” and videotaped himself having sex with adult film actresses. A Los Angeles Times investigation followed up on explicit photos posted at Thedirty.com. Nanula was ousted by the board. Starwood has lost sex harassment cases in Philadelphia, Florida and settled others to avoid press attention.
Corporate bad actors Wells Fargo, Walgreens and the former Starwood with its managers now at Marriot, create credibility problems for the LGBT community. Big Gay has its seal of approval on them despite consumer fraud and predatory lending by Wells Fargo, tobacco sales and opioid violations at Walgreens and sex harassment cases against Starwood formerly managed by “Mr. Rich.”
For Big Gay’s seal of approval to mean anything, it must stand for something more than fundraising cash, free hotel rooms, and access to cigarettes. The seal must stand for ethical business practices and withdraw endorsement from companies that commit consumer credit fraud, engage in “unprecedented” violations of the Controlled Substances Act and sexually harass employees and guests. It is time for the LGBT community to get real on what its endorsement really means.
Jim Patterson is a member of the California State Society and writes from Washington DC. See www.JEPWriter.blogspot.com for recent writing products.
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