How Occupy Wall Street Plans to Take Down Bank of America--And How You Can Help
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“In sum, Bank of America torched dozens of institutional investors with billions in worthless loans, repeatedly refused to abide by contractual obligations to buy them back, evaded hundreds of millions in local fees and taxes, pushed tens of thousands of people into foreclosure using phony documents, ignored multiple court orders to stop its illegal robo-signing, and exploited President Obama's signature mortgage-relief program. The bank fixed the bids on bonds for schools and cities and utilities all over America, and even conspired to try to game the game itself – by fixing global interest rates!”
Yet, after all this, the bank is still chugging along, hiking up fees on customers who can't afford them, and sending collections agencies after people who don't even have debt anymore. And it remains supremely confident that no matter how many lawsuits or downgrades, it will always have access to the next government bailout.
There's no greater proof of this than the fact that not long ago, Bank of America was allowed, with the blessing of the Fed, to move a huge chunk of potentially toxic derivatives from its shaky investment banking arm, Merrill Lynch, to the publicly-insured Bank of America itself—guaranteeing an FDIC bailout if the debt goes bad.
“This, in essence, is the business model underlying Too Big to Fail: massive growth based on huge volumes of high-risk loans, coupled with lots of fraud and cutting corners, followed by huge payouts to executives,” Taibbi wrote.
Break It Up
Back in January, Public Citizen put forth a petition calling for Bank of America to be broken up by regulators, who have the authority to do so under Section 121 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. A group of economists and activist groups signed on to a separate letter to the Treasury Secretary, the Fed and the FDIC, calling for investigation into the country's biggest banks to see if more of them were deserving of dissolution.
And now, Occupy Wall Street has set its sights on B of A.
“Our specific demand is to break up Bank of America because we're done with this too big to fail thing. Bank of America is too big, it has been failing and we want to highlight exactly how it's failing,” Nelini Stamp told AlterNet.
To target the big bank, OWS has a variety of tactics ranging from direct actions to coordinated Move your Money efforts, and as their spring offensive continues, they're ratcheting up the pressure on B of A.
Of Move your Money, Stamp said, “We want to make sure that people feel like that is a direct action unto itself. 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.”
On April 13 in New York, Occupy will be holding a “move your money relay,” escorting people from Bank of America branches, where they'll close their accounts, to community banks and local credit unions, where they'll hold celebrations to welcome people to their money's new home. And May 9 th is Bank of America's annual shareholder meeting in Charlotte, North Carolina (the same city where just a few months later, Democrats will converge to re-nominate Barack Obama for a second presidential term – at Bank of America stadium). Other activist groups like the Rainforest Action Network and the New Bottom Line are joining Occupiers in calling for actions in Charlotte to protest the bank's policies.