“You can’t be a customer and a protestor.”
Two protesters involved with Occupy Santa Cruz in California walked into Bank of America earlier this week to close their own accounts as part of the national protest against the greed and irresponsibility of Wall Street, which has only seen it’s profits soar since it nearly collapsed the economy back in 2008… Rather than allow their customers to close their accounts, they told them that “you can not be a protester and a customer at the same time.” The bank manager threatened to lock the doors and call the police to have their own customers arrested for the simple act of requesting the closure of their own accounts. The two women left the bank and called the police. The officer went into the bank and after talking to the manager, relayed a message to them. According to the bank manager, “If they came in with the signs and they were part of the protest earlier, then they are protesters and cannot be customers at the same time.”
Just as Citibank’s statement regarding its arrest of protestors at a branch in New York was an epic PR failure, so was Bank of America’s response to the arrests in Santa Cruz:
“It is our responsibility to ensure a safe environment for customers to conduct financial transactions. So, due to the disruptive nature of protests lately and the potential for safety or security issues, we do not allow protestors inside of our banking centers. If a customer who is participating in a protest wishes to conduct bank business, including close an account, we ask them to come back when they are not protesting or they may also conduct their bank business at a nearby branch away from protest activities.”
Apparently, Bank of America’s PR department does not yet understand the nature of this protest (or of protest in general.) Signage and accessories do not make the protest. I hate to sound schmaltzy, but the protest comes from within. If those women had gone back to the bank the following day, sans signs, they would still be protesting.
Bank of America is not doing itself any favors with this sort of PR failure. Moreover, it seems to me Bank of America is opening itself up to liability here. As Stephen Foster points out:
Banks are just looking for ANY excuse to keep the money they have in their banks. It shouldn’t matter if these folks are protesters or not. If you walk into a bank and request that your account be closed, the bank should give you your money and close the account. These banks are illegally holding the money these customers deposited, and they are willing to have their own customers arrested rather than give up money they want to gamble with. The police are arresting the wrong people.
As an aside, it cracks me up that the white girl gives the BofA employee the old “Oh HAIL no!!” (that’s how I would have spelled it — not “Oh hellllllll no!”; it’s ok to go phonetic, FYI).
Anyway, rock on, sisters; and well-done you banana slugs.
[via Addicting Info][cross-posted at Angry Black Lady Chronicles]