This morning, Irregular reader Ralph told us about the protests going on in Ithaca, New York. “I’m a skeptic, but I’ve got to tell you I’m genuinely enthusiastic about this. Today was the third day in a row of demonstrations in Ithaca in support of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Each one has been bigger than the last. I’ve never seen anything like it. This thing is growing FAST.”
The protests have been outside of the Bank of America building in Ithaca. Another meeting will take place there today at Noon.
Why target Bank of America? Bank of America has been earning anger by firing employees and resisting efforts to come to fair settlements to prevent home foreclosures. This week’s protests against the bank just as Bank of America announced that it is charging a five dollar per month fee for the privilege of having a debit card connected to a checking account.
The debit cards are a cost-cutting measure that saves the bank money, requiring less labor per purchase than a written check does, so customers are wondering why they should have to pay Bank of America money just in order to access their own money in a form that’s convenient to the bank.
In the nearby city of Cortland, a protester has taken it upon herself to organize a pamphleteering of the local Bank of America branch. She writes, “I will be at the Bank of America on Groton Ave. in Cortland every day this week at noon dispersing handouts outlining the extensive abuses BOA commits on it’s clients and employees. I will be trying to sway people entering the building to close their accounts with BOA. Please join me in standing up against corporate greed!”
About an hour away over the hills, along the border with Pennsylvania is the city of Binghamton, where yet more protest is taking form. A meeting of protesters planning to join the occupy movement from there is taking place this afternoon, “5:30 at the pavillion in Rec Park”.
These are not big cities. Binghamton has around 47,000 inhabitants. Cortland has about 48,000. Ithaca has about 29,000 people. Yet, these small Upstate New York cities are seeing large numbers of people at their protests, joining in spontaneously.
No corporate chartered buses are bringing paid picketers in. No billionaires like the Koch brothers are handing out pre-printed signs with lobbyist-approved slogans. Neither the Republicans nor the Democrats are dictating talking points to this movement. What we’re hearing is the genuine voice of the 99 percent.