The “Hands Off Uhuru! Hands Off Africa!” campaign is calling for a boycott of Regions Bank, a financial institution with 1,454 branches in 16 states in the southern and midwestern United States.
The boycott was prompted by the bank’s March 2023 unexpected announcement that they would be closing all accounts of the Black nonprofit African People’s Education and Defense Fund (APEDF) as well as canceling the group’s line of credit and calling in a mortgage loan on a property under renovation for a bakery cafe in an impoverished Black community in north St. Louis.
The refusal to renew a commercial mortgage when all payments have been made on time by a nonprofit with a 20-year history with Regions Bank of reliable financial performance is highly unusual and apparently motivated by political opposition to the group’s mission to “defend the human and civil rights of the African community and build programs to address the disparities faced by the African community in health, healthcare, education and economic development.”
These economic sanctions have come on the heels of violent government-initiated coordinated pre-dawn attacks on the Uhuru Movement on July 29, 2022 with militarized FBI raids on 7 Uhuru properties in two states. The excuse given for these raids were bogus allegations related to an indictment of a Russian national for creating public dissent and interfering in American elections – charges on which there have been no indictments or arrests of any Uhuru Movement member and for which the Uhuru Movement insists they are not guilty and have committed no crime.
Regions Bank’s long standing racist policies, fraud and corruption
Regions Bank’s collusion with these attacks on the Uhuru Movement and the African People’s Education and Defense Fund (APEDF), imposing economic sanctions on programs serving the African working class, is only the latest in a long line of racist actions, fraud and corruption by Regions, benefitting the parasitic banking executives.
Regions Bank is headquartered in Birmingham, Alabama whose population is 69 percent African while only 18 percent of Regions’ employees are black. Regions’ CEO John Turner’s salary is a staggering 8.5 million dollars a year and several other executives make well over 3 million dollars a year while 25.5 percent of Birmingham families live below the poverty line and the city’s per capita income is only $26,000 a year.
In September 2022, the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) forced Regions to refund $141 million to customers and pay a $50 million fee for repeatedly defrauding their customers with overdraft fees–fees that were imposed even after customers were told they had sufficient funds prior to withdrawal. This practice went on as far back as 2015 when Regions was first reprimanded and continued until at least 2021.
Regions profits from private prisons
In June 2022, Alabama Students Against Prisons and organizations from the Communities Not Prisons Coalition protested the bank’s involvement as trustee for bonds to fund private prison corporation CoreCivic’s construction of two new private prisons in Escambia and Elmore counties.
According to the ACLU, forced prison labor in the U.S. today produces more than $11 billion in goods and services, enriching the private companies running these operations. Massively and disproportionately arrested, charged, convicted and sentenced, black people make up the vast majority of those incarcerated.
The 13th Amendment purported to end slavery, but actually codified its continuation, stating, “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States.”
Up until 1928, the convict leasing program captured and “convicted” thousands of African men, women, children and toddlers and put them back on the plantation or factory where they were brutalized, beaten, starved and worked to death.
Alabama was one of the states that profited most, for 80 years, and was last to formally outlaw it. The revenues derived from convict leasing were substantial, accounting for about 10 percent of total state revenues during 1883, surging to nearly 73 percent of all the money coming into the state by 1898.
The protest at Regions Bank comes after widespread public exposure of the role of the slave trade in the birth of the American banking and insurance industries and during a time of growing demands for reparations to black people for slavery and colonialism. Black community leaders are calling for a boycott of Regions and are preparing for legal action. Campaign organizers call for public support of the boycott through these actions:
- Boycott Regions Bank! Bank-Run on Regions! Close your accounts.
- Call-in to your local Regions branch and state the demands during open hours.
- Go to your local Regions bank and state demands for CEO John Turner to stop Regions’ racist sanctions on APEDF! Support Black economic development!
- Demonstrate at a Regions bank branch in your city. Flyers available for download at HandsOffUhuru.org/RegionsBank
- Join and assist in legal action against Regions at HandsOffUhuru.org/Volunteer
- Donate to the Hands Off Uhuru! Hands Off Africa! campaign at HandsOffUhuru.org/Donate