From Coal to Foreclosures, Bank of America Faces Protest at Shareholders Meeting in Charlotte
Occupy Wall Street protesters, environmental activists, and struggling homeowners are converging in Charlotte today for a protest outside Bank of America’s annual shareholder meeting. The protesters are calling attention to the bank’s involvement in the financial crisis, its support for the coal industry and its long record of alleged foreclosure abuses. The rally marks a test run for activism targeting September’s Democratic National Convention, which will be held in Charlotte. The city recently enacted broad police powers to stop and search anyone carrying a backpack, purse or briefcase with the intent to conceal anything on a long list of prohibited items, ranging from weapons to markers to bicycle helmets. "Folks are coming to Charlotte to stand their ground against the predatory practices of Bank of America," says Rachel LaForest of the Right to the City Alliance, a national coalition of community groups that is bringing roughly 175 residents to Charlotte who have been evicted by Bank of America. "We’re coming to their shareholders meeting and to say: 'This is what your practices have done to our lives.' We’re entering into the space to become decision makers and ensure this stops." We’re also joined by Rebecca Tarbotton, executive director of Rainforest Action Network, which is calling on Bank of America, the largest financier of the coal industry, to transition its investments out of coal and toward energy efficiency and renewable energy. "Bank of the America is the lead [U.S.] financier of coal — the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change. We’re here to say to Bank of America: You need to get out of coal if you’re serious about this country transitioning into renewable energy."