North Carolina activists put their training into practice today, filling Bank of America branches in five cities with the buzz of people power.
The 99% of Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, Asheville and Charlotte joined forces in a wave of coordinated actions organized by the North Carolina Coalition Against Corporate Power. There were several more marches across the country.
On a day when millions of American families post an average 28% of their income for federal, state, and local taxes, Bank of America is poised to avoid all taxes for another year. After watching Bank of America receive the “income tax refund from hell,” $666 million in 2010, and a $3.5 billion taxpayer sponsored refund in 2009, the citizens of North Carolina have had enough of the repeated derelictions.
“It’s insult to injury,” said RAN activist Antoine James. “Bank of America has robbed our state of $2.4 billion in taxes over the last decade, contributing to shrunken pensions, hospital and school closures, and hundreds of thousands of layoffs. At the same time, the bank continues to sicken our communities with coal funding and to foreclose on our neighbors.
As folks around North Carolina took action, RAN activists in Charlotte joined together with more than 30 of their neighbors and, armed with letters addressed to Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan, organized themselves into two letter-delivery squads and set out for local bank branches. At each location, activists as young as 4 and as seasoned as 80 discreetly trickled in, posing as customers. As the branches filled up, the people spoke with one voice, dominating the branded lobbies with a thundering people’s mic: “We will no longer stand for business as usual. On May 9th, thousands of people from around the state, country and world will converge on the Bank of America shareholder meeting in Charlotte to demand an end to your criminal practices that are bankrupting our economy and wrecking our climate.” Simultaneously, activists littered every surface of the bank with 150 letters. One embattled Bank of America employee was heard to grumble, “I knew this was going to happen.” Several customers thanked activists on their way out of the bank.
For many of the Charlotte activists, the April 17th branch actions were a first experience in nonviolent direct action, having recently trained alongside 100,000 others as part of the 99% Spring. Nancy Baranda 69, said: “I survived my first direct action! It’s been 45 years since I last participated in nonviolent direct action.” Everyone involved vowed to take further action to put an end to Bank of America’s most destructive practices. As the activist filed out of the banks, they chanted “B of A gonna pay come May.”