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Published on October 15th, 2011 | by Jeremy Bloom

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DON’T close your Citibank account today. They’re arresting people.

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.

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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.

UPDATES:

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.

http://youtu.be/l2vtXJ0k7AA

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))

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tK0O30aFT7g&feature=player_embedded

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 vikram.pandit@citi.com, 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

 Like what you just read? Like us on Facebook for more updates! 

More on the Citibank arrests:

(Image by twitter.com/celakabat)



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About the Author

Jeremy Bloom is the Editor of RedGreenAndBlue. He just moved to Los Angeles, and continues trying to change the world in positive ways.



  • Joanna

    What’s more important than anything? Get a lawyer -AND- Don’t. Say. A. Word. Not one word– They can’t hold you for more than 24 hours.

  • Steve Davidson

    Pointing at someone and writing information on your arm are not really “hand signals”.

  • lillebusy

    Do you have any confirmation that the only thing the people were doing in the bank was trying to close their account?

    For example, if they were chanting, singing, shouting or trying to hold a public protest on private property that would clearly be illegal. Having a bank account does not give the right to behave any way you choose in their lobby.

    • Jeremy Bloom

      They were waiting in line to close their accounts. No chanting.

      • Jmar

        It looks like a coordinated protest action, in which case a private business is in its rights to call in law enforcement. Kudos for the spin though.

        • wtf

          So explain why they dragged a lady off the street and forced her inside and then locked the door again?

      • ThirteenthLetter

        Can you prove that? The video seems to start at the arrests.

        • PsyKo

          Im the Fiance, she was closing her account. Officer let her out and we were waiting for the other protestants to be done with there teachings to the clerks to proceed on the closure of there accounts. If they have loans they might have an account…To remove plp from the bank the must have an official to do so and to advice the consequences by no leaving. All of us were arrested and no one told us why or our rights? Dont be stupid, open your eyes! I was a Ex-Customer.

      • Brian

        “Waiting in line to close their accounts. No chanting.”

        Video proves otherwise: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l2vtXJ0k7AA#

        Nobody standing in line, nobody trying to close accounts. You’re right about the no chanting mind you – but definitely not being quiet.

    • Peter

      It appears they were simply closing their accounts. The really awful behavior clearly has come from the bank. Why on Earth were the police involved? It has come to something when the police are acting in such a heavy handed manner. Perhaps they should be reminded that as public servants they should know their place.

    • Betty

      Obviously the protesters went in to stir things up…and their mission was accomplished. The Santa Cruz banker did exactly the right thing. The other video was edited to only show the arrest. These people are misguided and this entire article sounds like a column written by an elementary school child. Protest if you will, but do it outside the business. 25 people walking into a banking institution like a bunch of thugs is not appropriate. I would have called the police immediately. Grow up..

      • KB

        Can you prove they were trying to stir things up. Last time I checked it wasn’t illegal to go into a bank as a group to close a bank account and thank miss obvious last time I checked the only people in elementary school are children. Yeah they went in their like a bunch of thugs it would be more a appropriate to call the police thugs because they are the ones with the weapons. I’m interested in your definition of a thug? The REAL definition is

        A violent person, esp. a criminal.
        A member of a religious organization of robbers and assassins in India, suppressed by the British in the 1830s.

        Last time I checked closing your bank account wasn’t a criminal act. Sound like you have some growing up to do.

      • http://X-3HO@delphiforums.com SinghX

        Betty, you sound like the white people of Selma AL in the 50’s who thought black people didn’t have the right to sit in the front of the bus…imagine, 25 black people, getting on a bus, paying their fare and sitting together in the front…this is the same misguided, elementary school, thuggery “the others” are presented by people like you…according to you, they should be arrested because they want to close their account, have the same rights as any other paying customer? Did all those people “scare” you?

        You want the police to protect your rights to social and economic bigotry is that it? Go back to reading your tabloids and drinking for amusement….

      • Mr.D.

        Idid, I left the bank and joined the Navy Federal Credit Union!!! I voted with my feet!!!

      • Mary

        How can you say what doesn’t show on the video? Why don’t any of the banks release their video tapes? It’s obvious that they would show how in the wrong the banks are not the customers. Bank of American and Citibank are in enough trouble already with their toxic mortgages, paying their CEO’s MILLIONS OF UNEARNED DOLLARS, their usary rates on credit cards and student loans. GO TO YOUR LOCAL CREDIT UNION!

        • Like so many things in life, there’s a simple solution if you have the nerve and the brains…

          You don’t have to go in to close accounts, certainly not on the same day. Surprise. Much if not all of this can be done online. Just go to your local credit union, or a bank that isn’t run by cretins like these, and transfer 100% of your funds to another institution, cancel any recurring things you have (automatic transfers, payments, etc.,) make sure any income direct deposits are going to other institution(s) and shred or burn any checks, cards, etc., you have from that bank. If you made the mistake of opting for an account that’s not free, and they try to charge you money for having an account there, you may have a problem, but going in when a hundred other people are going in to do the same thing is asking for trouble. The response they made (and it’s tough to tell what really happened in a they said/they said scenario like this) is at least partly justified, by the fact that having a ton of people (literally!) jamming the branch presents a security risk. Remember they have lots of money there, and a protest camping out (or whatever) in a bank lobby would make it awfully tempting for someone to rob the place. Especially if the people there know about the closures, and have extra CASH on hand to deal with the withdrawals. Arresting customers purely to keep them from leaving seems like a stunt too stupid for anyone actually to do. There was probably some other justification, like the one I just pointed out, that it presented a security risk.

          If I ran a bank and wanted to be an as shole, I would simply let customers close their accounts, then sell their information for fun and profit, or re-debit a transaction or two driving their accounts negative by at least a cent, then quietly report them to CHEX, TRW, Transunion, Equifax, etc., and put them in a position to have to do a lot of legwork just to fix their dinged credit. But I’m not… well, I’m not in charge of a bank. :)

          Anyway, if these people had been smart and left the bank ages ago for greener pastures, and have (as I do) accounts at several different credit unions in different states, they wouldn’t have to worry about these shenanigans. Most of the places I go, thanks to my accounts at CU’s, and the Shared Branch program, I can access my money from nearly anywhere, or over the net, etc. I have several credit cards for other purchases, if I don’t want to use cash, issued by my credit unions, and although the rates might not be the very best, I don’t pay a penny anyway, because I figured out the secret of not having to pay interest on credit cards… charge what you can pay off before you get charged interest. Pay it off. Rinse and repeat.

          Anyway, best of luck to all you who still are making the ongoing mistake of having financial dealings with a “bank”.

      • Patricia

        The gal in the 2nd video – and her parents – felt that she deserved the best education possible, and now the poor thing is buried in debt. Boo hoo, poor you. I deserve to drive a luxury car, but you know what? I can’t afford it, so I drive a Honda instead. I was approved for a larger loan than what I actually chose to take out, but I knew what I could afford and I didn’t want to be a slave to my debt. Citibank sucks, they got bailed out and they made some really stupid choices regarding the protestors, but it’s your own fault you’re in debt. Don’t attend Ivy league on a community college budget.

    • http://classic.buzzflash.com/?time=12 Kevin Schmidt

      The bank guard is just an employee of the bank, and was not a police officer. He did not have a right to lock the door to prevent the bank’s account holders from leaving the bank. That is false imprisonment and kidnapping, which are both felonies under both state and U.S. law.

      If they chose to do so, they had every right to break down the door. The cost of replacement would fall on the bank, and not the customers.

      Of course, the customers have every right to sue in civil court. Good luck on collecting because very soon, Citibank will have to close their doors for good. Just like the other big banks, they are already bankrupt, so they will not be able to survive the bank runs that are all ready occurring all across the nation!

      Come November 5th, they are toast because Guy Fawkes lives!

  • Kevin

    So – does this mean that they haven’t got money to pay everyone if they close their accounts, and they need NYPD to stop a run on the bank?

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  • RightWinger

    Yes, they have developed a complex form of communication to exchange information. That’s exactly what has happened here. All of the occupiers know this secret code and can utilize it and share it, but only with other occupiers. Right now, I am shaking my head 3 times and scratching my neck. That’s how you order a cheeseburger in Occu-speak.

    I love how the video conveniently starts at the arresting and we are somehow supposed to be bamboozled by the idea that “all” they were doing is closing their accounts. As if that were actually all it would take, and as though Citi would have any authority to come send cops in to arrest people for doing nothing but canceling their accounts.

    This whole article is fiction, short of a snipet of a video conveniently edited. Gotta love the lefty Chicken-Littles!

    • David Norman

      RIghtWinger – At least bother to educate yourself on the circumstances before replying. Actually yes, as reported in the New York Times among many other places, the protestors HAVE developed a series of hand gestures to communicate with each other. They do not have a permit for amplification in Zuccoti Park so they needed another way to carry out votes and communicate ideas in their twice-daily “general assemblies”. They agreed early on to a series of hand signals when there were much fewer of them and have been training the newbies on them ever since. This BTW explains a lot of the confusion the night of the arrests, when reporters were stating on air that large groups of protestors were “doing jazz hands”. In actuality they were reaching agreement to allow themselves to be penned without resisting.

    • Merus

      So explain why Citibank locked their doors. There’s no scenario where Citibank are the victims and yet they lock a bunch of people inside their branch. Even if we uncharitably assume the protesters got violent and then somehow calmed down for the video when they realised they were locked inside, whoever made that call endangered Citibank staff.

      The whole point of the protests is that Citibank do indeed have the authority to tell the cops what to do, and they shouldn’t. It’s not about left vs right. It’s about how both sides got screwed.

  • http://www.adamlang.com Adam Lang

    If they were just standing in line, how did Citibank know they were there to close their accounts?

    The part with the lady in the business suit where the security guard goes “you were in there with everyone else” and her defense was but that she was a customer seems to infer the others were causing problems.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if the unbiased video from the security cameras told a different story than this video.

    • Patty Sherman

      The video will tell the truth. Seems like the bank, security and police jumped the gun and violated their civil rights. A terrible move by Citibank PR wise to behave so heavy handed and not just let them close their accounts and wish them well.

    • David Norman

      Adam – you just defeated your own point. The real point is that this woman’s protestations that she was just a customer went unheeded – the point being that even if security could tell “protestors” from those legitimately trying to close their accounts or perform other business they just didn’t care.

      • Jeremy Bloom

        Exactly. If their problem was people who “wouldn’t leave”, why are they arresting someone who had clearly left? Why are they dragging her back INTO the bank?

        • Fancy Mr. Ham

          Simple, punishment for closing her account, and she was no longer a customer, but an intruder on private property in their view.

          Bad little sheep get punished.

  • Caekbake

    This article is misleading.

    The people who were closing the accounts went in shouting and causing havoc. When asked to leave, they didn’t. This is why they were getting arrested.

    • Jeremy Bloom

      And this is based on what, Rush Limbaugh’s on the scene report? The only havoc they were causing was by talking about issues with student loans. They were asked to leave, and they TRIED TO, but they were LOCKED IN THE BANK. Watch the video – the woman in the nice suit DID leave, and the police grabbed her and dragged her BACK IN THE BANK. Please explain how that fits into your little scenario?

      • ThirteenthLetter

        Can you prove that they weren’t being disruptive? The video starts at the arrests.

      • Derek M

        The bank arresting people sounds like a fishy story to begin with. First of all, it happens all the time all over the country. It sounds like they were provoked. Second, if they were doing that, it would be a PR nightmare and it would be something covered by the news…but not one news agency talked about the incident (only blogs and tweets, primarily from the protesters). This report on the conflicting accounts is the closest:

        http://news.gather.com/viewArticle.action?articleId=281474980587852

        I’m all for fighting for beliefs and exposing greed but using lies or provocation to do so only diminishes the cause (just like ridiculing people who disagree or using broad-brushing against those with a different ideology). We should never have to lie to justify actions while fighting for the truth.

    • Jamie

      So you saw occupiers inside of the bank shouting and causing havoc? Show me where that part of the footage is because I must have missed it.
      You know, if I walked into a bank alone or with fifteen of my closest friends and was asked to leave because I wanted to close my account, I wouldn’t leave either. We should all be able to close our own bank accounts if we want to. You guys can call them whatever names you want to but I hope you’ll have a change of heart when you, your kids, or your grandkids are reaping the rewards from all of the hard work that these occupiers are putting into this movement.

      • Jeremy Bloom

        Watch the update video I just posted. This happened earlier in the Week in Santa Cruz, and there the video camera went in with the protesters. The whole thing is there for you to see. They were carrying one sign that said “I am closing my account”. The were quiet and polite (until they were expelled, at which point one of the girls begain shouting “This is wrong!”).

      • Brian

        “Show me where that part of the footage is because I must have missed it.”

        You did miss it. I guess the protesters chose to not show it for some reason. Maybe they didn’t want us to see it?

        Here is the footage in question: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l2vtXJ0k7AA#

  • smokey

    What a bunch o’ maroons!

  • Frack

    This article is misleading? Jesus Christ, it’s people getting arrested for closing accounts in a bank what more do you want? >_>

    • Dave

      Interpretations will vary depending on where people stand, because they always stand in the same place. The people doing the occupying never thought three years ago that they’d protest, but the world is too bent for us to sit and watch.

      The police should have told the bank to go to hell. It’s all on the cameras. This will be resolved via civil suits and the robbery cams. Cracking down on these things just makes matters worse.

      If you walk dangerously in potential police state space, open your phone and call yourself. Let it all end up in your voicemail. Likewise, use those video phones to capture a montage. The functionality doesn’t seem to exist to stream from a phone.

      At least make the banks use cops-for-hire and ensure that none of them are cops doing their second jobs.

  • Down South

    The only possible security issue I could see visually, was the head coverings. Banks don’t like that – my own has a sign that says remove sunglasses and head coverings before entering. That could have been a security issue from the banks point of view. Did the security guards speak to the customers about their appearance, or just call NYPD?

    All that said, I support Occupy and am pretty angry about what I see here. The WERE leaving the premises, and then detained for arrest. Shame on citi and NYPD.

  • PlasmaStorm

    Occupy Wall Street causes trouble everywhere it goes. Nobody believes anything you say anymore. A bunch of angry protesters go in screaming and you claim they’re innocent. Gee wiz.

    • Jeremy Bloom

      And your evidence that they “Went in screaming” is… .what? That you WANT it to be so? Nice try.

      • Brian
        • Jeremy Bloom

          I watched the video (and added it to the article.).
          Guess what?
          No screaming…. Not one single scream. They’re talking in a rather dull way about student loans.

          • Brian

            There was definitely a fair bit of yelling going on. The behaviour shown in that video would definitely disrupt business.

            The bank staff was quite tolerant – they let them carry on for at least three and a half minutes before asking them to move the protest outside (maybe more – we don’t know how long they’d been there before the video started).

            They were politely asked to not use cameras – they refused. They were politely asked to move the protest outside – they refused. I can’t fault the bank for calling the police at that point; I would have done the same.

            I notice that while you’ve updated the article with the video from inside the bank, the article still states that they were attempting to close their accounts, that they were arrested for closing trying to close their accounts, that they were not yelling, and that they attempted to comply when asked to leave. All false statements. Your bias is showing.

            … but now that your initial argument has been proven false, I’m sure you’ll just repeat the same argument you’ve made in your last couple comments – that there should be no consequences for breaking the law. Dislike the laws all you want, lobby to have them changed if you wish, but until they are changed, breaking them is likely to have consequences.

          • Jeremy Bloom

            Yes, I’m reporting what they said. The bank’s statement doesn’t actually contradict that, either – they acknowledge that one person asked to have their account closed, that account WAS closed… and since the others who were arrested all stated that they were in fact Citibank customers and they had entered the bank with the intention of closing their accounts, I don’t see why we shouldn’t take them at their word, especially since THE SAME thing happened at Chase, and proceeded without incident. The difference here is that the Citibank manager asked them to leave, and things appear to have gone dramatically downhill from there.
            So – no lies on this count, although we certainly have a different interpretation.

            We can parse this one seven ways to Sunday. So, lies, or interpretation? YOUR theory that they were arrested for being an unruly, uproarious mob isn’t backed up by anything.

            Definition of “yell”: 1 : to utter a loud cry, scream, or shout; 2 : to give a cheer usually in unison.
            “Yelling” is what was happening outside the bank branch when the police were arresting that woman. What the gentleman inside the bank was doing was more along the lines of declaiming, as actors do on stage. Projecting his voice. Of course, once it turned from “We are your customers here to tell you why we’re not happy with the service we received” into “You are trespassers and we’re going to have you arrested,” decorum may have broken down a little. But on the first video tape there is nothing but polite chit-chat..

            Yes, at 3:30 or so there is a mention of carrying this on “outside the branch”. That was the point when they should have gotten their act together and said “And the POINT of our being here is to close our accounts”. Instead they got sidetracked with discussion of the other point of their being there: trying to win over the hearts and minds of the Citibank employees. Foolish, and disorganized – these are kids here, in case you hadn’t noticed. They certainly didn’t link arms, shut down the branch, or chain themselves to the potted plants. An appropriate response might have been to have the police shoo them out the door when they arrived and give them a warning.
            And again, the idea that the appropriate response it to PREVENT them from leaving at that point by locking doors is just… weird. If your goal is to avoid disruption of business, your action is… to lock the doors? It’s totally counter-productive to their stated goals, which is THE POINT OF MY ARTICLE.
            At Chase they didn’t indulge in this stuff, and it was all over and done with minutes later – instead of the huge disruption that happened at Citibank. Is that so hard to understand?

          • Brian

            Sure, you’re reporting what they said – as if it was fact. Even after it’s been proven otherwise, your article stills proclaims their false statements as fact. Everyone who posted anything suggesting they were being disruptive was met with your demands to prove it with evidence – while you made the opposite claim with no supporting evidence of your own. I think reporting the known facts from a neutral position would be much more effective than your one-sided, biased report.

            Those “kids” are educated adults. When I was a university student I was certainly old enough and knowledgeable enough to know what I was doing, and to understand the risks. I suspect they knew exactly what they were doing and what the potential consequences were.

            “all stated that they were in fact Citibank customers and they had entered the bank with the intention of closing their accounts, ”

            That may have been their intention – I have no idea, I’m not a mind reader – but the problem is that they didn’t actually try to close their accounts! It’s their actions that are at issue, not the actions they intended to take but didn’t.

            “1 : to utter a loud cry, scream, or shout”

            They were definitely shouting at times.

            “2 : to give a cheer usually in unison.”

            They did that too.

            “YOUR theory that they were arrested for being an unruly, uproarious mob isn’t backed up by anything.”

            That isn’t my theory. My theory is that they were arrested for trespassing. “Unruly, uproarious mob” is also quite an exaggeration. I said they were yelling and disruptive to business. Please don’t put words in my mouth, and I’ll try hard to extend you the same courtesy. Deal?

            Look, I have no problem with peaceful protest, which this was, but when they failed to leave private property on request, they broke the law, and that often comes with consequences. Based on the video I’ve seen to date, I agree that arresting them was probably unnecessary – being escorted off the property by the police would have resolved the issue quite nicely, in my opinion. I don’t know why the police chose to arrest them instead, but that’s the course they chose, and that’s the risk the protesters took.

            The lock-in: I haven’t seen video of who locked the door. If it was done by the police, or at the request of the police – well, the police have the power to detain people. If the bank did it on their own, and their is no law that lets them do that as a security measure, then yes, there should be consequences for that too.

            I’m also concerned about the woman who was dragged back into the bank. The police may have had reasonable suspicion to detain her, and they may have had probable cause to arrest her – I have no idea – but the level of force used seemed quite unnecessary.

    • Mr. Raven

      Are you paid to lie about people, and shill for corporate America “PlasmaStorm,” or are you a volunteer fascist? And yes fascist is in fact accurate, for fascism is the combination of state and corporate power as displayed by the police arresting peaceful protestors on behalf of the money power.

      “Fascism operated from a Social Darwinist view of human relations. Their aim was to promote superior individuals and weed out the weak.[5] In terms of economic practice, this meant promoting the interests of successful businessmen while destroying trade unions and other organizations of the working class.[6] Historian Gaetano Salvemini argued in 1936 that fascism makes taxpayers responsible to private enterprise, because “the State pays for the blunders of private enterprise… Profit is private and individual. Loss is public and social.”[7] Fascist governments encouraged the pursuit of private profit and offered many benefits to large businesses, but they demanded in return that all economic activity should serve the national interest.”

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economics_of_fascism

      Remember we all as tax payers paid for the bailout so it’s in YOUR interest to support the Occupy movement, and not the banks that double dipped, once when they gambled with our money, and then again with the taxpayer funded bailout which reeks of actual fascist policy as documented in my link above.

    • http://classic.buzzflash.com/?time=12 Kevin Schmidt

      Yes, how dare the Occupy movement try to interfere with the upper 1% as the Gilded Fascist Elite continue to loot the middle class and continue to pollute the planet and continue to wage imperialist wars OF terror, torture, genocide, ecocide, rape, looting and plundering!

      Why won’t the 99% just shut up and allow themselves to be bullied into submission, again?

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  • Christopher Pennington

    Their is a bank on every corner.You do not need them. Move your money, move your credit, move your mortgage. Sell your stock in a company like that. Do not act on their actions, delete their actions. Its easy, and you know how.

  • anon

    this garbage is poisoning my ability to find actual information about this event.
    let the commentors generate the outrage. please just report

  • http://marcid.tumblr.com marcid

    In the second video, the girls are smirking. They know they are going to cause problems. Look at their smiles! It’s like they are trying to prevent from laughing or something. I completely disagree with cops being called in to arrest customers of the bank, but I do not know the whole story. If everyone was to withdraw their money from Bank of America or Citibank, can you imagine the crisis that would follow? Many people have over $100,000 in a bank, that is all they are guaranteed to receive if the banks fail. By withdrawing money, you technically are contributing to crumpling major cities! Imagine how many people would be out of a job if all the big banks fell? It wouldn’t just be the top 1% of America- it would be all the tellers, everyone who works in those tall buildings all over the country and abroad. It would affect millions and millions of people. Honestly, protesting against mega-corporate spending is one thing, but invoking a bank crisis is a dangerous move that will only further the depression. Does anyone really want that?

  • Daniel

    This is really simple.
    You guys are doing the right thing, the wrong way.
    No one’s “rights” were violated as far as I could see. The property holder, in this case Citi, holds all the rights. Even if you are a customer, you are not entitled to special “rights.” If you want to close your account that’s cool, do so. If you are unhappy about their practices or principles take your business elsewhere. Believe it or not that’s called Capitalism, and it ROCKS!!! However, once you are on private property you’ve gotta do what they ask you to. And if you don’t they can call the cops, if the cops ask them to do something, they are actually obligated to do what the cops say. Furthermore if you want to protest, that’s also cool. However you are obligated to do as the police ask you to. If you don’t they are obligated to arrest you. They may also use any force they deem necessary and a court of law will determine if they were correct or you were. The manager was acting as the spokes person for the property holder, and that’s their policy (and yes, they can make any ol policy they want, even if it’s illegal). That’s what the courts are for.

    All I’m really saying is that if you want to protest or close your account that’s cool, just don’t break the rules. If you want to break the rules that’s GREAT! Just understand that you may be arrested, tased, pepper-sprayed, beaten, etc. Oh yeah, and if you want to protest the right way, cool. But if you are in a group of folks doing it the wrong way, you might also get fucked by the system because the group you were with did it the wrong way.

    It might not be a perfect system but at least you aren’t carted off with a black bag over your head and never heard from again.

    If you really want to stick it to “Wall Street” you don’t need to protest with your mouth or body or voice. The loudest voice on Wall St is MONEY. I get that that’s sorta-kinda what you guys were going for but leave the signs at home. You don’t need em.

  • http://satyrosphilbrucato.posterous.com/ Satyros Phil Brucato

    The papers reporting the “official version” of the story – the Wall Street Journal and the New York Post – are both major assets of News Corporation.

    News Corporation’s #2 stockholder is Prince Alwaleed bin Talal.

    Who holds an 8% share of Citibank.

    “Journalistic objectivity” here is a joke.

  • Michael Brevin

    Hmm…was there a bird lady outside feeding pigeons? I suspect Mary Poppins was involved in this.

  • http://importantmedia.org David

    I would love to hear a legal justification for the “you can’t be a protester and a customer at the same time” line from the branch manager in Santa Cruz… that is some CRAZY shit.

    • Brian

      It’s private property. They can ask anyone to leave at any time. That is all the legal justification they need.

      • Jeremy Bloom

        Are you familiar with the distinction between “can” and “should”?
        Legally, any store can throw out any of its customers for any reason it likes.
        But it’s not the best public relations tactic.
        Not also that they CLAIM they were throwing them out… but then locked the doors so they COULDN’T get out. Now they’re blaming the police for that… but it was their call to escalate this to caging and arresting.

        • Brian

          Of course I’m familiar with the distinction between “can” and “should”. Are you familiar with the concept of “straw man”?

          David was looking for the bank’s legal justification to ask them to leave. I provided it.

          BTW, did you see the video of the protesters standing silently in line waiting to close their accounts? It’s on youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l2vtXJ0k7AA

  • Charlie

    Don’t have a BOA or Citibank account, but I am closing my Chase account (which was Washington Mutual originally) and just joined a credit union.

  • Petra

    One has to look at this impartially from both sides (when I say “both sides” I’m referring to the individual people…not the big banks and corporations).

    I feel for the bank staff, as well as the protesters. One has to consider that when dictates come from the corporate head office, the staff (including the manager) risk their own jobs if they fail to comply. With the economy being in the state that it is, the bank staff may not feel that they have the freedom to act based on their conscience, even if they are sympathetic to the protesters’ cause.

    We are all hostages to the corporate/capitalist machine.

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  • Todd

    I’m glad being really annoying isn’t against the law, because the woman holding the camera and providing the narrative would be guilty, guilty, guilty. I sympathize with the concept of the 99%, but I worry that whiny clips like this make it too easy to dismiss the execution.

  • Jenn

    Didn’t bank at either one, but I still left Wells Fargo for a credit union and am much happier.

  • Amber

    When I first heard this story, I saw the video footage from outside the bank, right when the people inside found out they were getting arrested. I questioned if these people were REALLY trying to close their accounts because really, why would they be getting arrested just for simply closing their accounts? As it turns out, after seeing the video footage from INSIDE the bank, NO ONE was trying to close an account at all. They went in, causing a scene, talking about student loans. They were asked not to use cameras. They didn’t listen. They were asked to leave. They didn’t listen. So, yeah, arrest them.

    This is a bank. Banks get robbed. It’s not a good idea to go into a bank with a large group of people, be loud, cause a scene, do not follow simple requests of said bank, and then expect to not get arrested. It’s also not good to LIE about it and say that your group of people was simply trying to close some accounts. And they say the media tries to twist things….OWS isn’t going anything good for them by lying and then posting the video which proves said lie.

    But the footage of them forcing the lady back inside? That was pretty disturbing.

  • http://www.prosumerist.wordpress.com Doug B.

    It’s unfortunate that such a simple concept can lead to such problems. Close your bank account if you want, the police should not arrest you if you are not acting like a bunch of clowns.

    http://prosumerist.wordpress.com/2011/10/13/occupy-wall-street-says-close-your-bank-account/

  • http://gonzochicago.com John Yingling

    I am all for this movement, but this is not “simply waiting in line to close our accounts” : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l2vtXJ0k7AA#

    Yes, BoA, Citi, etc….they suck! But you need to follow the rules.

    The amount of one-sided stories, misinformation, and flat our false reporting virally spreading could eventually de-legitimize this movement entirely if we are not careful.

    ALL I’M SAYING IS DIG AROUND A LITTLE before you spread a fucking story to 50,000 people on Facebook and Twitter, or you will look like a fool.

    • Jeremy Bloom

      One of the things that struck me about all the people saying “you must follow the rules” is…the spectacular number of rules we have in this society. And how easy it would be for ANY of us to be arrested… if a police officer decided they wanted to.
      Cross a street against a light? Jaywalking. Arrested!
      This country’s alcohol distribution system practically FORCES you to break the law. “Closing time! Drink up, then leave!”. Most people are probably okay… but you COULD get pulled over. And arrested.
      And then there’s cannabis, which harms NOBODY, and yet we have hundreds of thousands of non-violent cannabis users arrested in this country every year.
      So yeah, walking into CItibank and giving them a lecture was probably impolite. And a waste of time, since the Citibank employees didn’t need the lecture. But ALL THOSE ARRESTS? Totally out of proportion to the situation.
      Keep in mind… the reason our country is in this mess is because of rampant fraud and improper dealing from massive, too-big-to-fail banks. Companies have forged documents in order to push foreclosures… sometimes on properties they didn’t actually own! Politicians rake in campaign cash from corporations, and then vote on laws the funnel huge benefits to those corporations. And then there are the lobbyists….
      So don’t lecture me about people “Needing to follow the rules.”
      So this year we enforce the rule against not sleeping in a park, but we don’t bother enforcing the rule against multi-million-dollar bank fraud.
      If there’s one message that we’ve gotten loud and clear, it’s that the rules don’t apply to the 1 percent.
      And the other message is that for the 99 percent, “Step out of line once and we WILL have you arrested.”

      • John S

        The real issue isn’t the police. Private security held people against their will on a trespass accusation, and that may be grounds for a lawsuit. That”s explicitly forbidden in Oregon. CA and NY are not OR, I know.

  • Anon

    The sad thing is that the OWS guys resort to lying while Citibank tells the truth. Just view the video of what happened (currently 2nd video on this web page) and compare which version is the honest description of what happened:

    “Citibank reacted to customers trying to close their accounts today by… bringing in a ton of cops and having them arrested.”

    to

    “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”

    • Jeremy Bloom

      You can just keep repeating that if it makes you feel better.
      I hope the next time you “break the rules” in any way, there’s a cop there to arrest you, too. Because arresting people seems to be the only growth industry in this country right now.
      Yeah, they were stupid for trying to talk to the folks at Citibank, rather then just shutting up and closing their accounts.
      But Citibank was stupider for locking the doors and having all of them ARRESTED, instead of, for instance, having the police escort them off the property.
      The demonstrators made a poor tactical choice. Citibank made a poorer choice.

      • White

        Jeremy… When things happen I always watch at the “biggest scheme” level. For Instance, In Rome Italy, same days, we had a peaceful Demonstration transformed into a ferocious fighting… -The same happened in the mean time in Vancouver Canada…!! ..We see NY unrest happening and how Chase smartly answered instead. That’s great. But again Jeremy, my aim is to watch at the highest level possible. ———– DO WE WANT REALLY BELIEVE THAT THIS WORLDWIDE UNREST (just the beginning probably..) HAS SPREAD BECAUSE OF PEOPLE TIRED OF TIRANNY..? -Is it just the power of the WWW to connect these events together..?? – Is it the power of the “Collective Unconscious Mind”…? ..May be… But I’m just not that sure…. ——-I want to be short here. …You know, Masses can be manipulated very easily, through proper communication, and when needed on the ground, a few well trained “Agent” can spread the fire in squares, cities and entire countries… And I don’t need to remember you that these methodolgies have already been applied successfully from the CIA and other Intelligent Agencies in many places around the World… Isn’t it..? By now I’m sure you think that I’m gonna talk about the US imperialism… Well.., NO. This time is bigger.——– By 9/11 everything got bigger and more complex, by 9/11 many of us understood that now the game was becoming much more bigger than the Talibans against US… ;D (..Just as an example: I’ve never seen a building falling down because of a sudden “emotional withdrawn”..! But this is what happened precisely to Building 7, and the clinical name of that “emotional collapse” is Thermite Controlled Demolition..;) ——- By then many things have happened, and it looks like everythng is following a “WELL THOUGHT PLAN” that goes far beyond the single Nations interests and politics. “Where do THEY want us to go from here?” “What would be the next BIG SURPRISE that THEY will set in place so to be “allowed” to TIGHTEN THE NOOSE on our freedom and eventually Lives..?” ——–This is what I believe really really matters for the Human Species… So that in the end we will not kill each other in a well provoked race, ..a Human race, …But we’ll stand as Human Race in peace to find new resources for the Human Race.

  • http://scallywagandvagabond.com scallywag

    Perhaps arresting these people has more to do with preserving the banks autonomy and very survival rather than the very interesting idea that all the security guards and cops were trying to do was put a sudden frenzy session of customers/vigilantes into quarantine mode. Who really needs to be quarantined are the banks, but that’s just the humble opinion of an individual with hardly a dime to his name.

    http://scallywagandvagabond.com/2011/10/citibank-would-like-to-blame-the-nypd-for-having-23-of-their-customers-arrested-for-trying-to-close-their-accounts/

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  • Danny

    First off, the bank won’t be releasing their videos. They don’t want the whole world to see the exact placement and angles of their cameras. Second, I guarantee you if you look above their door it will say “This door to remain unlocked during business hours.” They violated fire codes when they locked all those people inside.

  • Dillard Stone

    Citibank is a horrible company. I severed all connections with them two years ago and would never go back. That said, these protesters are making Citibank look GOOD, which is an unfortunate accomplishment. The protesters’ initial version of events — “We were just waiting peacefully in line to close our accounts” — has been shown to be an outright lie. Given what actually happened, it’s hardly surprising that the incident ended in arrests.

    Loud-talking man: Do you think that we have a right to be here?
    Crowd, in unison: Yes!
    Loud-talking man: Do you think that Citibank’s practices of adding interest again and again and again to student loans is despicable?
    Crowd, in unison: YES! [even louder]

    Imagine that you’re running ANY business. A crowd of two dozen people walks into your store and one of them loudly announces that your practices are “despicable” while the others cheer their approval. You ask them to leave, but they won’t. Any business that DIDN’T call the police at that point would be behaving oddly.

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  • does it matter

    This is utterly stupid If you want to close out your account write a check and go to another bank you wish to open the new account to and deposit the money that way. Don’t go inoto a bank looking to get into it

  • http://none None of your Goddamn business

    Everyone seems to have forgotten that the police and in a larger sense ALL government employees work FOR the American citizenry. We are supposed to have a say in how this country is run but because of the electoral college system, we actually do not. It is time for us to declare our own form of martial law. Banking institutions, law enforcement, big oil, above all, big government, need to be ordered to stand down. We outnumber them thousands to one. It’s time we started acting like it.

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  • John S

    I don’t know what New York law states, but in Oregon, a security guard cannot lawfully hold someone on the charge of criminal trespass.

    They can call the police, and the police may well track you down and nab you, but if you are trespassing and try to leave, it’s illegal for a security guard to hold you.

    So if this were Oregon, both sides would have need of a good lawyer right now.

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  • fito364

    it is amazing how people can be so self centered and twice as ignorant in the face of truth. I don’t expect unanimous support since not everyone is smart enough to realize there can’t be general happiness when so many are suffering partly due to their acceptance of a mutually detrimental situation. It would require even more wisdom to understand that the situation is not without solution and the ones at the head of this occupation movement which started as and remains a global phenomena can continue to suffer the ridicule of their childish siblings and even a little pepper spray. But when a protest takes on the magnitude of this world wide uprising by people once deemed intelligent enough to have bank accounts and jobs, supported by innovative communication networks no thanks to mainstream media for known reasons pointed out by whistle blowers sacrificing professional integrity for psychopathic labeling of conspiracy theorists who somehow keep echoing the tuned out chant “I told you so”, it is time to open your eyes or shut the hell up! For once, your opinion in support of the 1% mentality is obsolete. Arresting people is not a joke and undermining the ridiculous treatment of law enforcement as if they were dealing with criminals is a mentality soon to be extinct! It should never be acceptable that innocent people, loud or quiet as long as they are within their just humane rights be subjected to the processing and labeling by disciplinary actions reserved for convicted felons resulting in an ink stain on their personal records that will affect their future in this society which prides itself on silencing the awakened by brute force as a preventive measure. Cow formatting days are over, and those who can’t tolerate a little commotion when the rest of the enlightened righteous attempt to set things right for all, even the blind and dumb, don’t need to participate.
    Stay on the sidelines little one, this is not your average tea party…

  • http://www.reverbnation.com/play_now/song_10574795 jediSwift

    I seriously cant believe they got away with this.

  • debalazo

    To ‘Brian’.
    None of mine, but, are you a paid stoolie to demean the work of these destitutes or indebted by the Wall Street Mafia? You waste so much space with your girlie nonsense while we occasional drop-bys try to learn as much as possible about this popular movment. You made your point. A dozen times. Just grow up and shut up!

    As for others, just take your monies out of ANY bank and open a Credit Union account. Let these usury suckers dry up and DIE. The 1929 SCAM is exposed. This time these racketeers will be the only casualties.

  • get a job u hippies

    Banks arent places to protest. theyre a place of business and if that was your store how would u fee if ppl were in there making a scene. keep your protests to public spaces!!!
    how dumb is that 21 yr old who took out a 100k loan???? u have got to be kidding me! u got an education that people in other countries would never have the chance to get. and now ur crying b/c u have to pay it back. get a job and work.

  • Fred

    Keith —
    Please, please, get these folks to play it cool, really pacivist. No need to race in and caujse a commotion by closing their accounts. Just get on twitter or facebook and gather up as many pledges to transfer all of the funds they don’t need to another account, or withdraw these funds. Plan to do it some time in the near future, say a couple of weeks from now so the effort can gain some momentum. And then od course plan to do it say on a Friday so that it can have international impact as these banks loan out all these funds over the weekend to banks in Europe, etc. I would think that just the threat of a few thousand people doing this would be enough to cause a real stir and reaction.

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