A pair of unscheduled speakers interrupted J.P. Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon during his annual speaking engagement at the Goldman Sachs Financial Services conference in New York.
About ten minutes into an admittedly dry conversation Tuesday about where the biggest U.S. bank saw opportunities to grow market share, a male protester demanded to know whether J.P. Morgan would stop financing private prisons and detention companies.
"They're locking up immigrants, including children, and tearing families apart," the unidentified man said. "You have so much power to do something, why won't you?"
Dimon, 62, as the elder statesman for the U.S. financial industry, has been the target of groups protesting issues from human rights to climate change. The bank lends to GEO Group and CoreCivic, two firms that run detention facilities for immigrants in Texas, according to Bloomberg News.
Dimon declined to engage directly with the outburst. He then added that J.P. Morgan and the Washington-based Business Roundtable, which he chairs, supports immigration reform.
Minutes later, amid a discussion on technology spending, he was interrupted again by a woman who demanded to know: "When will you stop locking children in cages?"
"Okay, if there's anyone left here, come on out. Get it out now," Dimon responded, drawing laughter from the room.
It's unclear how the protesters gained entrance to the event, held near Goldman's headquarters at the Conrad hotel. The event is invite-only and security personnel typically check people for ID badges.
"They do have legitimate issues," Dimon said. "Those prisons they're talking about are sanctioned by government agencies, audited by government agencies, and a lot of people say they do a much better job than public prisons, though I'm not an expert on that type of thing."
A group called CPD Action said on Twitter that it was drawing attention to J.P. Morgan's financial ties to the for-profit prison industry. According to a press release, a coalition of community groups including the Center for Popular Democracy planned the protest to highlight the supposed hypocrisy of banks including J.P. Morgan.