Dovetailing with some of the key issues highlighted by the “Occupy” campaign, which shows no sign of dissipating seven weeks after it began on Wall Street, other campaigners have declared that Saturday was “Bank Transfer Day,” and are asking their fellow citizens to close their bank accounts and to open accounts with credit unions instead.
Over 80,000 people have declared that they are attending “Bank Transfer Day” on Facebook, where more than 48,000 people have also declared their support. The organizer, Kristen Christian, explained that she established the day as a result of proposals by banks to charge a monthly fee to customers with less than $20,000 in their accounts. “I started this because I felt like many of you do,” she said. “I was tired– tired of the fee increases, tired of not being able to access my money when I need to, tired of them using what little money I have to oppress my brothers & sisters. So I stood up. I’ve been shocked at how many people have stood up alongside me. With each person who RSVPs to this event, my heart swells. Me closing my account all on my lonesome wouldn’t have made a difference to these fat cats. But each of YOU standing up with me … they can’t drown out the noise we’ll make.”
While Kristen Christian has focused specifically on an alternative to the banks, others campaigners have also seized on “Bank Transfer Day” as an opportunity to highlight the $108 billon (out of $204 billion) that was given to the banks in 2008 but has not been paid back. The shocking details of how the banks still owe $108 billion are here.
In Washington D.C., for example, the Occupy D.C. protestors in McPherson Square have adopted “Bank Transfer Day” as part of a wider campaign, highlighting the missing $108 billion, and also explaining:
After the banking industry gambled our savings, retirements, and wages away in the 2008 financial crisis, not only were they not punished for their recklessness, they were rewarded with larger banks, increased profits, and weak “regulations.” The people of the world have had enough, and on Bank Transfer day we the 99% will move to starve the reckless big banks of the money they need to continue gambling.
Join us as we vote with our wallets this Saturday, November 5th. We will meet at McPherson Square at 10 am and go to the branches of several major banks in the area. There we will withdraw our money so we can put it in local banks and credit unions, which play by the rules and conduct their finances soberly and soundly — for the good of ourselves and our country. [...]
Last month 650,000 Americans opened Credit Union accounts. In all of 2010 only 600,000 Americans did the same. The people’s uprising has started. Concerned 99%rs have called on all people to move their money from the corrupt and immoral financial institutions in our society to the community banks and credit unions who choose instead to responsibly safeguard and handle our money. Not only do these institutions act as more stable influences on our economy, but they frequently have fewer fees and higher interest rates on savings.
The Occupy D.C. protestors recommend visiting the Move Your Money Project for details of where to find a credit union, and the “Bank Transfer Day” page on Facebook also provides links to credit unions in the US, credit unions in Canada and credit unions in the UK.
About the author: Andy Worthington
Andy Worthington is the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — click on the following for the US and the UK). To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to his RSS feed (he can also be found on Facebook and Twitter). Also see his definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, updated in January 2010, and, if you appreciate his work, feel free to make a donation.