On Friday, August 12, 2011, about 50 members of Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment (“MORE”) protested the activities of Bank of America at the downtown branch of the bank in St. Louis , Missouri.
Many of the protesters have been longtime customers of Bank of America, and they intended to withdraw all of their money from Bank of America as part of their protest. Thus, the protestors were taking a page from Arianna Huffington, who initiated a “Move Your Money” campaign back in 2009.
MORE was upfront about its concerns.
Bank of America is bad for St. Louis.
Join St. Louis community members on August 12th to pull our money out of BOA and invest in local banks and credit unions. We are taking action to invest locally because BOA is hurting our community and local economy.
– Bank of America is foreclosing on hundreds of families without following proper procedures. This affects the value of our homes, the stability of our neighborhoods and the future of our city.
-Bank of America is sitting on billions of dollars that should be reinvested in our community so that we can rebuild our cities and neighborhoods.
– Where do they get their money? From us! Bank of America charges some of the highest fees around and profits off of predatory loans.
– Bank of America paid $0 in federal taxes last year and continues to receive subsidies and tax breaks that are causing budget deficits and cuts in vital services.
As part of a national movement, millions have already taken action and moved their money out of Big Banks. According to MoveYourMoneyProject.org, $5 billion has already been pulled out of Big Banks.
Here are some instructions MORE gave to its members regarding Friday’s protest:
On Friday, August 12th at 4 PM join other community members to send BOA a message.__CLOSE YOUR ACCOUNTS & INVEST LOCALLY__Bank of America in Downtown St. Louis at 8th and Market.__If you are closing your account come early and see reverse side for more information. Account holders should join others closing accounts inside the lobby between 3:00 and 4:15 PM. Everyone else who is concerned about the way Bank of America is affecting our city and economy, please join our rally outside! Please read below to learn about which banks to move your money to and please call us so that we know you will be joining us and we can keep you informed about any changes!
As you can see, there is no suggestion that any protester should engage in any unlawful activity. Under these circumstances, there would seem to be two approaches that a bank might take to the upcoming protest:
1) Invite the protestors to come into the bank to withdraw their money, as long as they didn’t disturb other bank customers. A bank might even invite the protesters to briefly sit down with bank officials, so that the protesters could air their grievances face-to-face. Bank of America did not choose this alternative. Rather, it choose #2.
2) Bank of America assumed that the protesters would commit criminal acts, called in a police riot squad, blocked the protestors from entering the bank to withdraw their own money, and ignored the protesters’ concerns about the bank’s overall behavior.
Under these circumstances, there would seem to be two approaches that a television “news” department might take regarding such a protest:
1. Show up with a reporter and camera to inform the viewing audience about the concerns of the protesters, whether or not the station aired Bank of America commercials. It would seem that all St. Louis stations would be on alert; after all, the riot squad was on alert, substantial additional security was evident and the protesters proceeded to voice their concerns despite this intimidation. No St. Louis television stations showed up to cover this protest, however. Instead, all of the St. Louis television news departments chose alternative #2.
2. Don’t show up at all, meaning that a local blogger provides the only video for this event, even though a protest of this magnitude would have drawn coverage had it been a Tea Party rally instead of a protest against an establishment bank.
About the Author (Author Profile)Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.
Sites That Link to this Post
- BofA refuses to let people in to withdraw money | October 5, 2011