Public Advocate Letitia James on Sunday demanded “immediate action” to be taken by TD Bank, calling on the banking institution to sever ties with a gun manufacturer whose weapons carried out last week’s deadly shooting in San Bernardino.
Smith & Wesson, the gun maker of the AR-15, a military style semiautomatic rifle, and a handgun, were used in last week’s massacre in California left 14 people dead and more than a dozen wounded.
Outside a TD Bank on the Upper West Side, James said the banking institution had taken the lead in a June 15deal that provided $280 million dollars in loans to the gun manufacturer.
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“Make no mistake, money that fuels gun violence is blood money,” James said, joined also with local New York City officials, anti-gun advocates, victims and families of gun violence. “We are here today because we must hold accountable the financial institutions that are funding gun violence.”
In a Dec.3 letter to TD Bank’s top executives, James urged TD to “undertake the following steps immediately,” which include “publically disclosing the amount and justification for all fees and interest income” in connection with Smith & Wesson, as well as reviewing other business dealings with firearm manufacturers and ending those dealings as soon as possible.
It could also put the city’s relationship with the bank at jeopardy if the institution continues financing the gun manufacturer, James said
“Enough is enough, we’re here today to put TD Bank on notice,” James said on Sunday.
Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer, also at the rally, called on local support amongst the“destruction, tears, and a kind of soul-searching that is not describable every single time we see this horror and feel this horror.”
“I need to continue fighting this cause… for me this is what keeps me strong every day… it keeps me fighting and fighting,” said Yvette Montanez, one of the speakers at Sunday’s rally, whose teenaged daughter was a victim of gun violence.
“If these financial institutions continue sponsoring all these guns, we are losing the battle,” Montanez said.
“I know a lot of friends who have lost people to senseless acts of violence and it all involves guns,” 17-year-old Eddiana Wallace toldMetro.
Holding up a sign that said “Don’t shoot, I want to grow up,” Wallace is part of the community-based program Bronx Connect and said she has gone to too many funerals and doesn’t want to go to anymore.
In response to James’ call, TD Bank said in an emailed statement to Metro that “as a matter of corporate policy we do not comment on the nature and specifics of our relationships with our customers.”