Showdown in Charlotte!
An historic showdown took place in Charlotte this week. Bank of America’s annual shareholders meeting became the arena of an epic battle pitting students, immigrants, poor and working people, people of color, homeowners, environmentalists and peace activists up against one of the most wealthy and wicked institutions on the planet: the Bank of America.
Bank of America is:
- Number 1 forecloser of homes in the US,
- Number 1 funder of the US coal industry,
- Job killer by letting go of nearly 100,000 workers over the past several years,
- Not paying taxes – they paid zero in U.S. taxes in 2009 and got a $1 billion tax refund in 2010, evading $2 billion in taxes through loopholes, scams, and overseas tax shelters,
- Paying its top five executives over $500 million in bonuses,
- Saddling students with a lifetime of debt,
- Financing the war machine.
While the Great Recession has hit all poor and working people hard, it was communities of color that were hit first and hit the hardest. The ongoing housing crisis was created in part by Bank of America and their notorious racial profiling subsidiary Countrywide Financial. The nation’s largest lender pushed bad loans on good people and passed the buck off onto the taxpayers with massive bailouts – making mega profits from the crisis they created. The disproportionate targeting of communities of color by predatory lending led to the greatest loss of Black wealth in a century.
This dramatic loss of wealth in communities of color was like throwing grease into an already burning fire. Before the subprime crisis sparked today’s recession, working class communities and communities of color had already been deeply affected by white-flight, urban removal, redlining (the refusal of banks to lend to specific communities), and massive cuts to social services as a result of austerity budgets on the federal, state and municipal level.
That is why Chattanooga Organized for Action and the Westside Community Association joined with hundreds of other people from across the country to bring the struggle directly to Bank of America. Everyday people from all walks of life united to restore the wealth that has been robbed from our communities and call for break up of this mega-bank that has shamelessly profiteered from the crisis they created. Hundreds rallied in the streets, hundreds disrupted the shareholders meeting, and five people were arrested for trying to attend the shareholders meeting and talk with Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan about how they were directly impacted by the Bank of America’s policies that prioritize profits over people.
At the rally we made our demands heard:
- An end to the financing of mountain top removal and the coal industry,
- An end to the racist attacks on communities of color through predatory lending,renewed redlining, foreclosure fraud, and denying loan modifications and principal reduction,
- An end to the attacks on our political process, no more lobbying against consumer protection laws and workers’ right to organize,
No more free rides, pay your taxes!
In this video, Johnny Rosa, a man who is losing his home due to a Bank of America foreclosure, attempts to enter the shareholder’s meeting in an act of civil disobedience. Rosa is arrested by Charlotte police and taken away…all for attempting to fight back and save his home!
This video features Anne Washington from Community Voices. Anne and her fellow organizers drove all the way from the Bronx in New York City to participate in the mass action against Bank of America.!
Kendall Hale is with Occupy Asheville. She owns shares in the Bank of America and spoke up during the Annual Shareholders meeting to let the people who run the bank know exactly how she feels about their putting profits over people and our planet!
As the 99% took control of Downtown Charlotte’s financial sector, the Wall Street of the South was treated to the sounds, chants, and music of drum circles and songs! Listen and see the energy!