In Washington state, big out-of-state banks such as Bank of America, Chase, Citigroup, KeyBank, and Wells Fargo are using the money from their hard-working customers’ accounts to kill legislation that would help local communities–including a renewal of a $67 million tax break for themselves. While thousands of vital state services are cut and state employees are laid off of work, big banks continue to reap profits.
On August 18, Washington CAN! and allies gathered seventy people at the downtown Seattle offices of Bank of America to demand that they, and other out-of-state corporate banks, pay the $67 million they owe in taxes and urge customers to move their money into better banks. Washington CAN! collected 876 individual, small business, and organizational pledges to move or keep their money out of the five big banks, totaling over $10 million. In front of the Bank of America tower, Nora Kelly from SEIU 775, Tamara Crane and Kami Bodily of Washington CAN!, and Ana Castro, Main Street Alliance leader and owner of local business The Salvadorean Bakery, all shared their stories of why they were moving their money out of the big banks.
Security at the Bank of America tower locked down the doors of the small lobby people first attempted to enter. When demonstrators went to look for alternate entrances, security chased after them and locked down elevators and the main entrance to the building (trapping many tower workers inside the large glass lobby with a clear view of the demonstrators and their signs). After being locked out, a smaller group of people rushed the Bank of America branch across the street to distribute “Move Your Money” flyers in all the nooks and crannies of the building they could find, including deposit slip drawers and the hands of passersby.
The August Move Your Money action is part of a larger campaign to expose big banks as examples of the harm caused by unbridled corporate power, and to take that power away from corporate interests that are hurting communities. The goal, along with regulation of financial institutions at the federal level, is also state and local reforms, like ending state tax breaks for large out-of-state banks.