Occupy Wall Street plans to ‘take down’ Bank of America


Occupy activists rally outside the Bank of America Plaza in Los Angeles in February. (Damian Dovarganes/Associated Press)
April 9, 2012

Occupy Wall Street protesters say they plan to “take down” Bank of America on Friday by encouraging people to remove their money from the bank.

The “Move Your Money Relay” will include escorting people out of Bank of America branches to help them move their funds to community banks and local credit unions.

Members of the Occupy movement, who have long resisted making specific demands or adopting a leader, say they think that in the case of Bank of America, more specific action is needed.

“We want to make sure that people feel like that is a direct action unto itself,” Occupy activist Nelini Stamp told Alternet, a progressive news site. “It’s not just ‘I’m just moving my money from here,’ but actually people are feeling empowered and knowledgeable about the choices that they’re making when they’re making their banking decisions.”

Bank of America did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the protest.

A recent article by Rolling Stone writer — and Occupy Wall Street supporter — Matt Taibbi compared Bank of America to the “world’s worst behaved teenager.

“They’re out of control, yet they’ll never do time or go out of business, because the government remains creepily committed to their survival, like overindulgent parents,” Taibbi wrote.

Occupy protesters often employ the lessons and jargon of Taibbi, including his famous description of Goldman Sachs as “vampire squids.”

One offshoot of Occupy has already been taking on Bank of America for months, “living-rooming” local branches of Bank of America, meaning its members move furniture into the banks and explain to employees they are moving in because the bank took their homes.

Bank of America last month tried to stem the foreclosure problem by sending proposals to more than 1,000 of its customers asking that they become renters to avoid foreclosure.

In February, The Washington Post’s Suzy Khimm wrote that Occupy’s protests could be having a real impact on banks.

Khimm cited a new study from J.D. Power and Associates that found a growing number of Americans are transferring their money out of large and mid-sized banks: 9.6 percent moved their money in 2011, up from 8.7 percent the year before, and 7.7 percent two years ago.

The most popular reason people moved their money was because of higher fees, such as Bank of America’s proposal for a $5-a-month debit card fee, which the bank later scrapped.

But in a separate survey from Javelin Strategy & Research, 11 percent of people who switched banks cited a grass-roots campaign urging them to switch to smaller banks or credit unions as the reason for their move.

Is Occupy Wall Street hurting banks? Khimm wrote: “At least on the margins.”

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