Quaker protesters 'shut down' PNC annual meeting

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Activists protest PNC Bank.

UPDATE: Quaker-led environmentalist protesters invaded PNC Financial Services Group's annual meeting in Pittsburgh, "disrupting the event and forcing Chairman James Rohr to abruptly shut it down," reports the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette here.

"Mr. Rohr tried to deliver his presentation inside the August Wilson Center, but was repeatedly interrupted by members of the Earth Quaker Action Team who took turns calling out the names of individual board members asking them to state their position on mountaintop mining.

"After calling the protesters out of order, Mr. Rohr essentially threw up his hands and adjourned the meeting roughly 15 minutes after it began."

EARLIER: A network of activists who say they are inspired by the pacifist, communitarian Quaker teachings of Pennslvania founder William Penn have been showing up at PNC Bank functions to protest the company's financing of coal companies they say are stripping mountainsides and leaving environmental damage in West Virginia.

The activists, including a member dressed as Penn in 17th Century Society of Friends-style coat and hat, picketed the Hyatt at the Bellevue in Philadelphia on Friday night as J. William Mills III, PNC's top Philadelphia officer, received an award from the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce at its gala dinner, according to photos the group provided. And two dozen group members were in Pittsburgh today to protest at PNC's annual meeting, the Associated Press reported here.PNC declined to comment.

The protesters "demand a much more transparent and enlightened response to concerns about mountaintop removal coal mining," Walter Sullivan, of Germantown, an organizer of the Earth Quaker Action Team (EQAT), told me. He said Quaker merchants and manufacturers once guided the investment policies of PNC's Philadelphia predecessor, the Provident Bank, and that as a Quaker he felt special responsibility to witness to the bank's current management about changing practices that damage the land.

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