Dozens of supporters joined Chicago Divests at TIAA-CREF’s Chicago office in our largest vigil to date. TIAA-CREF clients, academics, activists, and concerned citizens joined us to respond to the Israel court system’s ruling on the death of Rachel Corrie. In 2003, 23 year old peace activist Rachel Corrie was crushed to death by a militarized Caterpillar bulldozer. Rachel was trying to prevent Palestinian homes from systematic demolition, a practice carried out by the Israeli military as collective punishment and for ethnic cleansing. On August 28th, the Israeli court system issued a verdict that absolved the Israeli Military of responsibility for Rachel’s death, despite a negligent investigation and strong evidence contradicting the verdict.
Today, activists participated in a global call to action initiated by the Rachel Corrie foundation. Rachel died trying to secure basic human rights for Palestinians. Caterpillar Inc. facilitates the death and displacement of thousands of Palestinians through supplying the Israeli army with its military-grade D9 bulldozers. All this week, activists around the world have honored Rachel Corrie’s memory by demanding Caterpillar stop it’s corporate involvement with the Israeli occupation of Palestine. In Chicago, we asked TIAA-CREF to divest more than $1 billion from Caterpillar. TIAA-CREF owes much of its success to its reputation as a socially responsible financial firm. This past June, TIAA-CREF divested $73 million in Caterpillar from it’s Social Choice accounts. In doing so, TIAA-CREF acknowledged that investing in Caterpillar adversely affects human rights, including the rights of Palestinians. Today, we told TIAA-CREF to fully divest from Caterpillar. TIAA-CREF cannot continue to invest in good conscience in a corporation responsible for the death and displacement of thousands. Though the justice system in Israel failed Rachel Corrie, we did our part today to honor her legacy and continue work to secure a just peace in Israel and Palestine.