Archive | July, 2012

Letter to Ithaca Government regarding corporate criminal Bank of America

2 Jul

Dear Mayor Myrick and Common Council Members of Ithaca

I am writing in support of the Reverend Rich Rose who recently brought attention to the armed guard outside the downtown branch of Bank of America.  I share his concerns, not only about the proximity of the armed guard to the Commons playground, but also about the Bank itself.  The Bank’s response as to why an armed guard is required at this branch was equally disturbing.  Using the threat of violence to suppress dissent from protesters is not only illegal, it’s also highly Un-American.  Furthermore, the Bank’s treatment of Rose is appalling.  After asking the bank manager a simple question about the need for an armed guard, the bank filed a charge of harassment against Rose.  I assert that the bank’s use of an armed guard and the charge of harassment against Rev. Rose were aimed at intimidating protest against the bank and is the real case of harassment.  While the bank has complied with the city’s limpid request to remove the armed security guard, at least for now, we must go further.  A request for information about the case from a local reporter was stonewalled by the IPD.  I’m not excusing IPD’s unethical behavior here, but would like to point out that this is clear-cut example of the unseen hand of corporate power wielded in our community by BoA and other multinationals

As a local tax payer and member of the Occupy movement, I would like to point out several facts about Bank of America which might make you take a harder look at our city’s relationship with a corporate criminal. You may have also heard about the global movement to transfer money out of corporate banks into locally owned community banks and credit unions.  If the city has not already done this, I would urge you to take a very close look at where our money resides and how our choice of banks can have a very real and negative effect on society as a whole.  You might also consider a resolution, as many have suggested, supporting a Constitutional Amendment banning corporate personhood.

Bank of America was and continues to be at the center of foreclosures.  Millions of hard working Americans have been kicked out of their homes after being defrauded with sub-prime mortgages. They have been evicted unjustly due to the Bank’s own errors and fraudulent robo-signing practices, a practice which involves whole departments of the Bank solely dedicated to forging documents.  This practice resulted in the 2008 economic crisis described by some as the worst recession in American history that continues to have extremely negative global consequences.

BoA was the recipient of taxpayer funds to the tune of $45 billion in the initial TARP bailout, plus trillions in emergency loans from the Federal Reserve, despite BoA being an admitted felon.  Much of this money went toward rewarding corporate executives who committed crimes against the American public with fat bonus checks.  Meanwhile, hardworking Americans have still not seen the light at the end of the tunnel despite reports that the recession is over.  Furthermore, the Right wing in this country, backed by criminal institutions just like BoA, have used this financial crisis to call for drastic cuts to our entire social safety net including wildly popular and successful programs such as Social Security, Food Stamps and Medicare.  Millions have been spent by Bank of America to influence both elections and to manipulate lawmakers already seated in Washington.  BoA has also contributed an untold amount to the American Legislative Exchange Council or ALEC, an undemocratic lobbying firm that pays no taxes and influences state-level lawmaking such as Stand Your Ground Laws (cited by George Zimmerman’s attorney as justification for the killing of Travon Martin) and so-called immigration reform laws targeting vulnerable communities for racial profiling, violence and deportation.  All this while paying $0 in taxes in 2009 and 2010.

Bank of America is the single largest financer of the coal industry in the US, an industry which has torn apart 100s of communities throughout Appalachia, contributes to thousands of deaths related to cancer, birth defects and asthma annually and is one of the main contributors of carbon dioxide to our atmosphere.  BoA also uses its undue influence on lawmakers to defeat policy changes which could curb US emissions, setting back the movement toward global climate justice and threatening life on Earth as we know it.

With these facts in mind, please consider a much stronger stance AGAINST Bank of America and all criminal corporate financial institutions.  While the bank has complied with the city’s tepid request to remove the armed guard from the Commons, it is your responsibility as elected officials to protect the people of this city from corporate predators and let Bank of America know that they are on notice.  Let them know that our police force is not here to be bullied into doing their dirty work and that their days are numbered here in Ithaca as long as they continue to act as irresponsible corporate citizens.