Occupy Austin is quite different from Occupy Wall Street, mostly due to the reactions of city officials and authorities.
1,300 hundred people showed up to Occupy Austin on Thursday, day one of the movement. On Friday, day two of Occupy Austin, the protesters marched to Bank of America, the too big to fail Bank of America, from City Hall chanting “We are the 99 percent!” In stark contrast to NYC and other protests around the country, the Austin police were very supportive of the peaceful protesters. In fact, city leaders including Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell and Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo came out to speak with the protesters, who were camping out at City Hall.
Video of the demonstrators marching to B of A from KXAN:
Organizers say they picked Bank of America to be their target because of new fees the bank is charging its customers to use debit cards.
“We hope to send a message to Bank of America that you can make a profit but you don’t have to take advantage of your customers and if you do your customers will leave,” said Occupy Austin spokeswoman Lauren Weckler.
Weckler says about 100 demonstrators closed their accounts with the mega bank and opened accounts at a local credit union.
Local press reported that the crowd was much smaller on Friday, around 300 people, but I recall the national media finding a handful of Tea Partiers gathered together a significant event (no seriously, CNN devoted a Saturday afternoon to this).
It’s funny that BoA feels perfectly fine with taking our money and using it pay for their bad decisions and then paying themselves huge bonuses and then charging us a fee to use their debit card.
Not funny ha ha, more like bitter rage funny. Like when you laugh so you won’t scream. That kind of funny.
After BofA showed a $1.79 billion net loss in the fourth quarter of 2008, the federal reserve gave BofA 97 billion dollars of our money as “funds set aside to insure against bank’s potential losses from Merrill Lynch merger.” Those numbers were as of Nov 2009, according to CNN. They also received 45 billion in cash under Bush’s TARP, which they returned. Both payments were made under the Bush administration. I guess they figured they could make up that 45 billion with ATM fees. Oh, I kid Bank of America.
The Occupy Austin’s list of demands and goals are:
- This movement is about democracy. We demand that the government be truly responsive to those it represents. We demand an end to the massive corporate influence blocking the voice of the people by eliminating corporate personhood and limiting monetary contributions to political campaigns and lobbying.
- This movement is about economic security. We demand effective reforms to prevent banks and financial institutions from causing future economic crises.
- This movement is about corporate responsibility. We demand strict repercussions for corporations and institutions who cause serious financial damage to our country and its taxpayers.
- This movement is about financial fairness. We demand tax reforms to ensure that corporations and the wealthy pay their fair share in taxes.
Bank of America paid no federal taxes in 2010. And they wonder why people want to take their money out.
Because based on my limited problems with Bank of America stemming from their now well-known computer problems that conveniently “lose” transactions that they then hold their customers accountable for, I can only imagine what they do to homeowners whose loans can’t be found anymore, whose homes face foreclosure, and who can’t afford to be charged fees for BofA’s mistakes. I know there are plenty of things I’d rather be doing with my money than helping BofA out again.
Occupy Austin is a great example of how peaceful protesters, police and city officials can work together to begin a dialogue about the anger citizens are feeling over corporate greed and failure to be accountable. This is how you do it, city officials. You listen to the people. When people feel powerless, eventually they will rise up to reclaim their power. Ignoring them or stifling their rights only makes the problem worse and brings media attention to the negative actions of the “authorities.”
Occupy isn’t going away any time soon.