Bank of America, already a target of the 99 Percent Movement for its attempts to levy a $5-a-month fee on debit cards and other practices, is now under fire from environmental activists who want it to stop financing the coal industry and destructive mountaintop removal practices.
Tuesday, protesters aligned with the Rainforest Action Network and the local Occupy Charlotte rallied around Bank of America’s Charlotte, North Carolina, headquarters, chanting “Bank of America, Bank of Coal” and scaling nearby flagpoles, where they hung a sign that read, “Not with our money.” Eight were arrested as the activists sought to bring awareness to Bank of America’s ties to the coal industry, the Charlotte Observer reports:
Beka Stecky, a protester who lives in Charlotte, said the demonstrations are about pushing Bank of America to stop financing the coal industry and are a call to like-minded individuals to take their money out of the bank. A news release issued by the movement says that in the last two years, the bank has financed $4.3 billion in coal projects.
This isn’t the first time Bank of America has been a target of environmental activists. In August, 15 were arrested outside a Bank of America in St. Louis, and in May, protesters visited multiple Bank of America locations in Portland, Oregon.
Multiple banks finance the coal industry and, in particular, mountaintop removal. But after painting itself as a leader in environmental issues by announcing that it would “phase out” financing for companies that engaged in mountaintop removal in 2008, Bank of America drew the wrath of activists this year when it was discovered that it was still financing the practice. According to activists, Bank of America is among the largest financiers of the practice, underwriting loans to companies that perform 40 percent of the nation’s mountaintop removal projects.
The eight arrested activists were released from jail last night, according to RAN’s web site. But the organization promised this wouldn’t be the end of its protests targeting Bank of America. “As authorities attempt to evict Occupy protesters from public spaces across the country, those protesters are going to start showing up at Bank of America’s doorstep more and more,” the organization said on its web site. “Bank of America is in the center of the Occupy Movement because of its reckless financial practices that put profit before people and planet.”