Can you protest a company while also being a customer? On the one hand, customer are perhaps the most legitimate protestors because they have more of a stake in what a company does than non-customers. On the other hand, if a company really is so bad, why are you doing business with them?
If you can't be both a protestor and a customer, then you should take your business elsewhere. Bank of America, though, seems to have a novel approach to this principle: if you are protesting them, then they will refuse to treat you like a customer, refuse to grant you access to your money, and thus refuse to let you stop doing business with them!
After a Occupy Wall Street solidarity march in Santa Cruz, California, protesters decided to put their money where their mouths were literally, and close their personal accounts at the local branch of Bank of America. You know, the bank that received $138 billion in bailout funds, paid no federal taxes, claimed a $3 billion profit in 2010 and awarded its CEO a $9.05 million bonus but is hard up enough for cash that they now *must* charge anyone with an account below $6,000 a $5/month charge for the privilege of having an ATM card. But holding a sign reading "I AM CLOSING MY BOA ACCOUNT TODAY" is enough to dictate that a person -- despite having money deposited with the bank -- is not a customer and cannot be allowed to close the account.
The bank manager actually said that: You cannot be a protester and a customer at the same time. She then locked in the protesters and threatened to call the police.
This goes hand in hand with the video, also from this weekend, of a Citibank customer in New York arrested for attempting to close her account. She was accused of being disruptive in the bank, but as you can see from the video (and really, isn't it about time that the Power That Be figure out that we all have video capabilities on our phones and their say-so won't fly in the face of digital evidence?), the woman was manhandled and arrested on the public street.
It is now apparently illegal to want to have possession of your own money if you disagree with banking companies.
Sounds like the message from the big banks is: if you want to keep having access to your own money (which in our system represents your hard work and sweat), then you must agree to only say nice things about us in public.