Occupy Miami Protesters Target Bank of America, Plan Mass Account Cancellations UPDATED

The Occupy movement started with mass outrage against Wall Street, and while Miami may not be home to the slimy realm of Gordon Gekko, protesters outside the Stephen P. Clark Government Center are turning their economic outrage onto the local equivalent: the downtown Bank of America headquarters.

Around 10 a.m. this morning, the protesters will march on BoA to demonstrate against its plan to charge debit card holders a monthly fee and its foreclosure policies. "They've abused our neighbors and our families long enough," says Jose Suarez, one of the planners.

A Bank of America spokeswoman hasn't returned a call or an email from Riptide about the protests, but here's what Diane Wagner, a national spokeswoman, said in a release last month about similar protests elsewhere:

The well being of customers and employees is our number one concern, and numerous steps have been taken to ensure their safety. Individuals and groups are able to assemble on public property; we only intervene if their actions are impeding customers from doing business, or if they are creating an unsafe situation. We've always demonstrated an openness to meeting with individuals or groups that take issue with the bank in a constructive manner.
The only meetings Suarez and his group are interested in today, he says, are to cancel accounts held by protesters.

Bank of America's debit card plan -- which will charge users $5 a month in "maintenance fees" -- is grossly unfair considering the bank got millions in bailouts from the government, Suarez says.

"In a down economy, you're going to charge people five bucks a month after we bailed you out?" Suarez says. "It's just not right."

The protesters will also demand more lenient foreclosure policies, Suarez says.

"They're one of the most aggressive banks when it comes to foreclosures," he says. "It doesn't make sense to put people out on the street during these historically bad times instead of doing the ethically and morally right thing."

The march is scheduled to start at 10 a.m. at the Greater Bethel AME Church in Overtown and make its way to the BoA tower on Flagler.

Update: Talk about quick results!

About an hour after the Miami protest, Bank of America announced it's dropping plans to charge $5 a month to debit card users. 


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Tim Elfrink is a former investigative reporter and managing editor for Miami New Times. He has won the George Polk Award and was a finalist for the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting.
Contact: Tim Elfrink