Bank of America received a Valentine’s Day gift Monday from a group of protesters who weren’t exactly enamored with the banking giant.
Chanting slogans like “we pay taxes why don’t you?” the protesters gathered outside bank’s offices on Main Street in Hartford to hand over an over-sized Valentine’s Day card with a list of demands scrawled on the inside.
Tom Swan of the Connecticut Citizens Action Group said he helped organize the protest because he’s concerned with the way the debate over shared sacrifice in the state is going.
“We’ve been very concerned over the public debate that has scapegoated working families and people who receive state services,” he said. “The real problem is the economy and large companies like the banks who have received taxpayer support through TARP then they don’t pay their fair share.”
Swan and the protesters had a list of grievances including high bonuses paid to the company’s executives and what they called a failure on the bank’s part to lend money to small businesses in Connecticut.
Win Heimer of West Hartford said he came out because of the “obscene” profits posted by the company at the expense of people who have had their houses foreclosed on and were “thrown out on the street.”
Marith Valenzise doesn’t speak much English but said that she was unhappy with the company because of the way they have handled the loan on her home.
Organizer Matt O’Connor of CSEA and SEIU Local 2001 said more people turned out for the event than he had anticipated.
But the event ended quickly. As protesters shouted “BOA you’re no good, help build up my neighborhood,” Hartford police tried to maintain an access path to the building’s entrance. Soon after the police arrived, Swan took the over-sized card and walked into the offices.
Inside, the bank’s employees seemed a little bewildered by Swan and the group of protesters who followed him in. And no one wanted to take the giant greeting card. Before long, police were inside telling the protesters to leave. Swan left the card sitting on the teller’s counter.
T.J. Crawford, spokesman for Bank of America, said the company had no comment on the protest or the claims made by the protesters. Crawford said, however, that the bank extended $92 billion in credit last year to small and mid-sized businesses throughout the country. The bank has also recently announced changes to its policy to loan modification for distressed home owners, he said.