How Occupy Wall Street Plans to Take Down Bank of America--And How You Can Help
Continued from previous page
“As the top financier of America’s dirty, outdated coal industry, which pollutes American communities every day, Bank of America has become emblematic of everything the 99% struggles to change,” Amanda Starbuck of Rainforest Action Network said.
It can be easy to get lost in the mess of evils that Bank of America is responsible for, but the OWS crew wants to make sure that focus stays on the bank's responsibility, both itself and through its Countrywide mortgage subsidiary, for thousands upon thousands of foreclosures. (The bank controls 17 percent of all of America's home mortgages, according to Taibbi.)
In New York, Organizing for Occupation has been doing blockades at foreclosure auctions, Stamp said, disrupting the process of selling off homes. The week of April 16, there will be more auctions in the city, and Occupy activists plan to target homes specifically being foreclosed upon by Bank of America and Countrywide, calling attention to the fact that foreclosures are more than numbers on a balance sheet—that each one represents a person, a family, being put out on the street. “We want to highlight that banks steal homes,” Stamp said.
If you can't make it to a foreclosure blockade and you've already moved your money away from Bank of America (or never banked there in the first place), the Occupy crew is inviting other activists to take a page from their book and move into a local Bank of America branch—and then share your experience online. In what they call “living-rooming,” a crew from Occupy's Direct Action group brought furniture into a local Bank of America branch and settled in to hang out, telling the bank employees that they were renting the place out—for the $230 billion in bailouts the bank had gotten from them and people like them. “It's your home too!” they announced.
While moving into a Bank of America lobby isn't a permanent solution for thousands of people left homeless by predatory banking, it is a fun way to remind the banks—and the general public—that Bank of America is, in fact, our bank—that it's us who've paid for it, and that if it tanks again, we're going to be the ones on the hook for bailing it out. To prevent that from happening, Occupy and an ever-growing number of organizations and experts are calling, ever louder, to break up the big bank before it breaks the economy—again.
Sarah Jaffe is an associate editor at AlterNet, a rabblerouser and frequent Twitterer. You can follow her at @seasonothebitch.