“Bank of America is definitely not feeling the weight of the pain it has inflicted on ordinary Americans”
Bank of America was one of the main beneficiaries of the policies of financial deregulation these past few decades, policies which have led to a massive wave of foreclosures. Today, thousands of people continue to lose their homes due to the bank’s predatory lending; meanwhile, Bank of America weathered the financial crisis thanks to a federal bailout [the bank received 45 billion dollars, which it has since paid back] and is now thriving, buying out more small banks and giving out huge bonuses to its top executives. [Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan’s total compensation quadrupled last year.] The bank is definitely not feeling the weight of the pain it has inflicted on ordinary Americans.We want them to feel that pain, and we want them to do what it takes to keep people in their homes. That means bearing part of the costs, by reducing borrowers’ debt loads.We’re also looking at Bank of America’s activities across the board. We’re taking this opportunity to protest their investments in coal production, which involves environmentally hazardous mountaintop removal mining.We hope that our protest will catch the attention of policymakers, and that they regulate the banking sector to make its practices fairer. We would love for Bank of America’s leaders to hear what we’re saying, and do the right thing of their own accord, but so far their behaviour hasn’t been very encouraging. There have been no overtures toward dialogue ahead of the meeting. The city of Charlotte, meanwhile, has declared the shareholders’ meeting an “extraordinary event,” meaning police have broader powers to search anyone they’re afraid of.[The “extraordinary event” ordinance stipulates that, within the bounds of the so-called extraordinary event, established by the city, it is unlawful to carry, among other things, any object of “sufficient weight that may be used as a projectile,” “markers containing fluid that is not water-soluble,” “a backpack, duffle bag, satchel, cooler, or other item carried with the intent of to conceal weapons or other prohibited materials,” and animals.]The city may well be trying to put on a tough face in anticipation of the Democratic National Convention, which is to be held in Charlotte in September. However, this is part of a bigger trend: dissent is becoming criminalised in the United States. This was very clear with the crackdowns on Occupy protests around the country in the fall; nevertheless, we’ll continue to do what is within our rights and hope our right to freedom of speech is respected.