Activists gathered in front of the downtown branch of Bank of America Friday to protests what they say is that bank's poor record of loan modification and foreclosures. The activists also sought to bring attention to the fact that Bank of America paid no federal taxes last year and receives subsidies and tax breaks that they say "are causing budget deficits and cuts in vital services." Will Taylor, a member of Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment(MORE), said “We always talk about Robin Hood, who stole from the rich to give to the poor. Bank of America is Hood Robbin’, stealing from the poor and giving to the rich.” Taylor and others had hoped to close accounts at the bank as part of the action. Damien Johnson of the Examiner.com reports that activists were prevented from entering the bank to close accounts. Watch the video here. Instead they pledged to do so in the future, many holding signs reading "Tax the Greedy, not the Needy", "Stop attacking working families" and "Tax day, make them pay".
The protest was part of "Midwest Rising:Convergence 2011", a five day gathering of progressive activists groups form around the Midwest. The goal of the convergence is to bring together activists, from environmentalists to grass roots low income community groups to present a united front against corporate influence in the political system. Midwest Rising says 400 people from 50 different organizations will participate. Their web site says "Climate justice and social justice activists are coming together to fight back against corporate power." The "convergence" started Thursday and will continue until Monday and includes a curriculum of workshops on organizing skills, presentations and discussions. The event is being held at the JC Penny Center at UMCL, in St.Louis.
The protest was billed by "MORE" as the Bank of America pullout. Organizers say Bank of America is foreclosing on hundreds of families without following proper procedures. Bank of America temporarily suspended foreclosures last year when it was found to have falsified documents in some foreclosures. The group has three requests for Bank of America: an immediate moratorium on foreclosures, a reduction in principal on all underwater mortgages and payment of its fair share of taxes.