99% protest targets Bank of America

By Sara Bruestle | May 16, 2012
Photo by: Sara Bruestle Anne Blanchard, of Edmonds, John Scholten, of Edmonds, and Merran Gray, of Whidbey Island, were among nearly 30 Occupy Mukilteo demonstrators who gathered outside the Bank of America in Mukilteo to rally against corporate greed on May 9.

Chanting “Move your money,” about 30 protestors gathered outside the Bank of America in Mukilteo on Wednesday to raise their voices against corporate greed.

Occupy Mukilteo demonstrators rallied to demand the bank pay its fair share in taxes, help homeowners avoid foreclosure, and get its money out of politics, among other demands.

“Bank of America is one of the top banks foreclosing on homeowners, and it pays no taxes,” said Clarence Elstad, organizer of the local movement. “We’re demanding that big banks like Bank of America start working for everyone instead of just the wealthiest 1 percent.”

Wednesday was a day of rallies across the country in support of a protest outside the bank’s headquarters during its annual shareholders’ meeting in Charlotte, N.C., against what demonstrators say is economic inequality and financial corruption. The American Dream Movement organized the Mukilteo rally.

The Occupy movement is targeting several U.S. corporations – and their shareholders’ meetings – for their “bad policies,” said Elstad, who is from Mukilteo.

Bank of America was targeted for its handling of foreclosures, its investments in payday lenders, and its funding of the coal industry.

Protestors at the Mukilteo bank said they were rallying so that more know what the too-big-to-fail banks have done to tank the nation’s economy. Many spoke disapprovingly of various Bank of America practices.

“We’re protesting because we’re outraged at the banks,” Whidbey Island resident Bob Gray said. “They have operated as if laws didn’t exist. They’re a power unto themselves.”

The slogan “Move your money” calls on the community to close accounts with corporate banks and open accounts with community banks and credit unions.

“The corporations control our democracy,” Kim Jordan of Whidbey Island said. “It’s time to rebalance that, to wake up and hold people accountable.

“Leave the big corporations, go to a small bank, where the money goes back into the economy and it doesn’t just go into the CEOs’ pockets.”

With signs in hand, demonstrators lined SR-525, just outside the Bank of America. Their chants of “Stand up for the 99” and “Tax the 1 percent” were greeted with honks by Speedway traffic.

A peaceful rally, last week’s protest was the second held in Mukilteo; the first was at the Mukilteo ferry in November.

Protestor Joy Currie of Marysville had a sign with the slogan “I pay, you pay – why doesn’t B of A pay?”

“We, the taxpayers, rescued the banks,” Currie said. “They were failing, and we kept them afloat. Now they’re making money off of the taxpayers’ backs. They’re enjoying huge bonuses.”

Everett resident David Gorgas was protesting because Bank of America is in the process of foreclosing his home. He and his wife were forced to move out after both their incomes and their property values dropped, and they couldn’t make mortgage payments.

“Their practices are bowling people over,” Gorgas said. “I have no idea why they run things the way they do. It sure doesn’t make sense.

“It’s just an indication of the way corporations are so removed from their communities. They can just strike communities down without any recourse.”

Anne Blanchard, of Edmonds, joined the rally because she fears for the loss of the “American Dream.”

“It isn’t true that if you work hard you can make it,” she said. “Lots of people are working hard, and many people are working two or three low-wage jobs, and they’re not able to make their mortgage payments and meet the needs of their kids.”

However, Blanchard and other protestors said they hope the rally will lead to greater awareness of corporate greed and to policy change.

“It’s a very large grassroots movement, and I think it’s going to hang in there until things change,” Elstad said. “The majority of us are the 99 percent, and we need to be sure that big corporations are not rigging things against us.”

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