by Dan Fischer, Dragonfly Climate Collective
This an update and thank-you message for those who have supported our friend Vic Lancia. Almost one year after Vic shut down a Wells Fargo branch in Middletown in April 2017, Vic was arrested in February 2018 and fined in March 2018.
On April 7 of last year, Vic, then about to turn 77 years old, locked himself to concrete barrels blocking the entrance to a Wells Fargo branch in Middletown during a protest against the bank’s funding of the Dakota Access Pipeline and other fossil fuel infrastructure. Vic’s lockdown shut down the branch for nearly two hours. Meanwhile, nine Wesleyan University students blocked the drive-through ATM. Police were unable to extract Vic from the barrels and made no arrests.
At the time, Vic offered the following statement: “Wells Fargo is a major funder of the Dakota Access Pipeline. It’s full speed ahead for fossil fuels even as the destructive consequences of their use become more and more evident by the day. Their ONLY concern is profit! This is corporate tyranny! We, the people, will not continue to ignore this to the peril of the young, our planet, and its inhabitants. And that’s why I am here today disrupting business as usual at Wells Fargo. I am here to say no to profiting from climate destruction. We are part of a worldwide movement TAKING A STAND against greedy and parasitic people. We need to get in their way and tell them: ‘NO!'”
The demonstration was organized by Wesleyan Coalition for Divestment and Transparency, Students Against the Fossil Fuel Industry, and Dragonfly Climate Collective.
According to Vic’s attorney, Wells Fargo appears to have requested police action, and this explains why almost a year later on Feb. 20, 2018, a police officer approached Vic on the street, pulled out a badge, and arrested him. The arrest warrant found probable cause for four violations of Connecticut General Statutes: Breach of Peace in the Second Degree, Disorderly Conduct: Obstructing Free Passage, Trespass in the Second Degree, and Interfering with a Police Officer. [youtu.be/UckxZO1ZEr4]
Ultimately, the state attorney chose to charge Vic with the first three of these violations. As a result, Vic faced a maxi-mum penalty of nine months in jail and $2000 in fines. At Vic’s first court appearance on March 1, 2018, the state attorneys said they would get get in touch with the so-called “victim,” Wells Fargo.
At Vic’s second court appearance on March 26, the State offered Vic two non-criminal infractions as a plea deal, which he accepted: A non-criminal trespass (fee: $90) and a non-criminal Creating a Public Disturbance (fee: $90) with costs and fees imposed (amounting to a total of slightly over $2,000). Vic has raised just enough to be able to cover his fines. Anyone who was looking to contribute might instead donate to a number of ongoing sites of resistance against fossil fuel infrastructure. For example, at this link you can donate to the L’eau Est La Vie (Water is Life) Camp resisting the Bayou Bridge Pipeline: bit.ly/nobbp. capitalismvsclimate.org/2018/04/dapl-protester-vic-lancia-arrested-and-fined-1-year-after-wells-fargo-lock-down.