Activists Busted for Busting Out of Their Clothes at Bank of America
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Stripping Protestors In Pink Bras Crashed Bank Of America CEO Brian Moynihan’s Speech,” declared Business Insider on March 8, showing Moynihan’s stern photo with a pink bra playfully dangling in the air beside him.
It’s true, things did get a bit wild at Citi’s Financial Services conference at New York’s Waldorf Astoria when Brian Moynihan got on stage and began flipping through his tedious powerpoint.
While the hotel security was busy watching anti-bank protesters rallying outside, CODEPINK cofounder Jodie Evans, dressed in a hot pink bustier, burst into the conference room. “Bust up Bank of America before it busts up America”, she shouted, before being hauled out by security guards. “As I was saying,” continued a deadpan Moynihan to the laughter of the crowd, returning to the dreary slides that tried to put a rosy spin on this dinosaur of a company whose share price has plummeted while it continues to foreclose on families’ homes and faces tens of billions of dollars in damages from lawsuits over mortgage investments.
Little did Moynihan know that the excitement at what is normally a bankers’ snoozefest had just begun. CODEPINK codirector Rae Abileah and I were already seated in the front of the room. Wearing dark business suits, we did our best to blend into the crowd of stodgy white men in black business suits.
While Moynihan was bragging that Bank of America ended 2011 with the most capital, liquidity and reserves ever in its history, I calmly walked on stage and began to disrobe while Rae deftly jumped on a table in front of the stage. As we shed our jackets and shirts, the startled CEO suddenly found himself flanked by women in pink bras, with Bust up B of A scrawled on our chests.
Taking the mic away from Moynihan, I addressed the audience of bankers and institutional investors. “Today, March 8, is International Women’s Day, and on behalf of 99 percent of women in this country who are disgusted by the unbridled greed of the big banks, we say it’s time to Bust Up the Bank of America.” I kept talking about the bank’s misdeeds as security guards jumped on stage and dragged me into the hall. To my delight, I could hear Rae, who was left standing on the table in her pink bra, shouting over the boos of the audience. “Stop foreclosing on people’s homes; stop the predatory lending; stop funding dirty coal. Mr. Moynihan, how can you justify making millions while bankrupting America?” she asked, as the security guards dragged her away. Indeed, in 2011, while millions of Americans were jobless and homeless thanks to the bankers, Moynihan received over $6 million in compensation.
This protest was one of many taking place at Bank of America branches around the country on International Women’s Day. Organized by CODEPINK, Women Occupy and Occupy Wall Street, the protests were meant to highlight the effects of the financial crisis on women and the fact that, four years into this crisis, the same problems exist.
In the afternoon, those of us in New York moved on to protest at the Bank of America branch located across the street from famous Zuccotti Park. While protesters gathered outside the bank, a few of us, including Rae and myself, went inside early. Just as the “bank busters” tried to make their way inside, the manager locked the doors and refused to let anyone else in.
With only a three of us inside, we didn’t know whether to proceed or bail. We decided to say a few chants, sing a Break Up the Banks song we had practiced, and then make a quick exit. We had just taken off our shirts and belted out a few chants when the police stormed in.