Climate demonstrators call on LL Bean to discourage fossil fuel investment

Bill Rixon was outside LL Bean on Tuesday – as he has been almost every day for weeks – protesting LL Bean’s partnership with Citibank for the LL Bean Mastercard. Moon of Soli/The Times Record

Bill Rickson, a retired high school physics teacher, has been protesting outside the L.L. Bean flagship store for the past three weeks with a tall “Protect Mother Earth” banner.

Its goal is to encourage LL Bean’s CEO to make a “good faith effort” to convince Citibank, which LL Bean partners with on the Bean Bucks Mastercard program, to stop investing in new fossil fuel infrastructure.

Advertisement for the LL Bean Mastercard at the entrance to the Main Street store. Moon of Soli/The Times Record

Rickson stops by the L.L. Bean executive office on Casco Street from 8 to 9 a.m. and then heads to the L.L. Bean retail store on Main Street around noon.

Rickson, as well as several other retirees who have joined him, hope their persistence can lead to a public statement from L.L. Bean CEO Stephen Smith asking Citibank to divest from new fossil fuel infrastructure.

LL Bean, which Molly Shen, one of Rickson’s fellow protesters on Monday, called “a much-loved company across the state,” is partnering with Citibank to offer its “Bean Bucks” brand to Mastercard.

Citibank invested the second-largest amount between 2016 and 2022, second only to JP Morgan Chase at $332 billion, according to a report by global banks on fossil fuel investments.

“It’s blatant that they’re using Citibank,” Shen said of LL Bean.

Jason Salham, communications manager for LL Bean, said: “Citibank continues to be a strong business partner that provides numerous benefits to our stakeholders.”

He mentioned “helping scale up our environmental initiatives.” So we think this is definitely a positive for our stakeholders that no current alternative can provide.”

Shen, another retired teacher, works with Third Act, an organization that unites Americans over 60 to campaign against climate change. Act Three was demonstrated outside Citibank’s headquarters in New York in April of this year. Shen said her father worked for Exxon Mobil.

“I feel like my climate activism is an attempt to undo my father’s work,” Shen said Tuesday.

Rickson said his experience with L.L. Bean customers and other passersby in the past month has been “encouraging” and “extremely positive.” He said he was disappointed that emails he sent to L.L. Bean management did not receive a response, but he plans to continue demonstrating.

“I’m a miner,” Rickson said, “I skate and ski—I’ll be here in January if that’s what it takes.”

Molly Shen of South Portland talks to a couple of LL Bean clients about Citibank’s fossil fuel investments while they pet her dog. Moon of Soli / The Times Record

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