In what can only be the stupidest public relations move in corporate history, financial behemoth Citibank reacted to customers trying to close their accounts today by… bringing in a ton of cops and having them arrested.
Even in the dark days of the 1930s and the great depression, when there were actual panics and bank runs, nobody tried such a spectacularly stupid move.
- Oct 20: Another protest, this one in DC. See: New action at Citibank to protest record profits (with video)
- It turns out there was another action at about the same time, this one at a Chase bank branch. Guess how that one went down? See: Citibank was stupid, Chase was smart)
- It turns out the loudest and most distruptive protestor… was an undercover cop. See” Citibank arrestees say undercover cops set them up
- Video backs up occupiers story. See: New video: Inside Citibank as guards prevent Occupy Wall Street demonstrators from leaving.
Here’s how it went down at the Citibank branch at 555 La Guardia Place in New York. What you can’t see on the video below: The demonstrators (all Citibank customers) were asked to leave, and when they tried to comply Citibank’s security locked them in and wouldn’t let them leave!
Twenty-three were arrested, including the woman at the end in the nice-looking business suit. (I think it’s really cool that the Occupiers have developed hand signals to exchange critical information during emergencies..):
UPDATE: Here’s the official response from Citibank. Take it, as usual, with a huge grain of salt. As in, where does locking the protesters in the bank, and dragging people who HAD left the back into the bank, fit in with “They refused to leave”?
“A large amount of protesters entered our branch at 555 La Guardia Place around 2:00 PM today. They were very disruptive and refused to leave after being repeatedly asked, causing our staff to call 911. The Police asked the branch staff to close the branch until the protesters could be removed. Only one person asked to close an account and was accommodated.”
Note to those attempting to justify Citibank’s actions by saying “The protesters must have gone in there yelling and screaming”… READ CITIBANK’S STATEMENT. You had better believe if there had been yelling and screaming, they would have said so. Instead they used those lovely weasel words, “They were very disruptive”. Note that that covers just about anything, since by definition a largish group of people walking into a bank desiring to close their accounts is going to disrupt the normal flow of business even if they’re NOT talking. See the next video. Note how “disruptive” the two girls at Bank of America are – it shows the entire thing. The only thing “disruptive” is the bank manager refusing to serve them and insisting that they leave THEIR OWN BANK BRANCH.
UPDATE: We’ve just posted another video from inside the bank. See: New video: Inside Citibank as guards prevent Occupy Wall Street demonstrators from leaving.
UPDATE: Here’s video from inside the bank. Note a couple of things: Despite the claims of some in comments (about shouting and screaming), this scene is extremely calm. While the protesters may be a bit preachy and didactic, there is nothing threatening in any way, and there is no overt “disruption” – there is no reason why business can’t proceed as usual while the kids are talking. That said, walking into a bank and starting an education session is NOT appropriate behavior, and those who were practicing it here should (and did!) expect to be asked to leave. What was inappropriate was locking them in and arresting them. It was certainly inappropriate to be grabbing people who HAD exited and arresting them.
UPDATE: Here’s an additional video that took place earlier this week in Santa Cruz. This time the camera is there from the beginning. Two girls walk into a Bank of America branch, one carrying a sign that merely states her intent to close her account. The bank manager tells her she has to leave and says if they don’t, she will call 911. There was no disruption, no shouting. Watch the whole thing. (Also, see our follow-up story, Citibank was stupid, Chase was smart))
What you can do:
- Call Citibank President Vikram Pandit and tell him to stop arresting his customers. He told Fortune magazine he’d be happy to talk to Occupy Wall Street! His office line is (212) 793-1201, and his email address is firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @askCiti
- Take the pledge – tell us in comments if you’re going to close your Citibank (or Bank of American) account on Monday! Take your business to a good local credit union or bank. Find a local credit union.
- Find out about your local Occupy events happening today via Occupy Together
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More on the Citibank arrests:
- Citibank was stupid. Chase bank was smart.
- Citibank arrestees say undercover cops set them up
- New video: Inside Citibank as guards prevent Occupy Wall Street demonstrators from leaving.
More on action against the banks
More on Occupy Wall Street
- Hawaiian singer Makana Occupies President Obama’s state dinner
- Bill Moyers: How the 1970s backlash against the environmental movement morphed into today’s class war
- Will winter weather stop Occupy Wall Street?
- Bill Maher skewers right-wing idiots who hate Occupy Wall Street
- Calvin and Hobbes explain OWS
- Why are they lying about OWS – and why are they getting away with it?
- Why we occupy: The Story of Citizens United – Why Democracy Only Works When People Are In Charge
- Find your local occupation at Occupy Together – now planned for more than 1,000 cities! | Twitter |Facebook
- Atlanta: website | Twitter| Livestream |Facebook
- Boston: website | twitter | yfrog | Livestream |Facebook
- Dallas: website | Twitter| Livestream |Facebook
- Los Angeles: Website | Twitter| Livestream |Facebook | Youtube
- New York: website | Twitter| Livestream |Facebook
- Portland: Website | Twitter|Livestream |Facebook
- San Francisco: Website | Twitter|Livestream |Facebook
- Seattle: Livestream (Video) | website | Twitter |Facebook
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(Image by twitter.com/celakabat)