The most visible manifestation of the 1% are bankers – and the Occupation movement has them worried. I wouldn’t have believed this report, for example, but it includes video evidence to back up its claims:
The banks fight back: Customers locked in and arrested after attempting to close their accounts in Occupy Wall Street protests
Banks across America appear to be fighting the growing protest against income disparity and rising fees as the Occupy Wall Street movement spreads worldwide.
A series of videos filmed across the U.S. in New York City; Santa Cruz, California and St Louis, Missouri, show customers staging protests and mass account closures.
However, footage has emerged showing what appears to be dozens of Citibank and Bank of America customers denied requests to close their accounts, some even being arrested after alleged clashes with branch managers. …
In some cases this has been badly handled. Refusing customers access to close their accounts just turns a minor protest into a big story. Losing a few accounts isn’t fatal, losing the public relations battle will be. In other signs of panic:
How Wall Street is responding, or not, to protests
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Since the Occupy Wall Street movement kicked off last month, big banks and their employees seem to have made a point of ignoring it, with some privately writing it off as no more than a badly organized nuisance.
But as the protest has expanded from a few hundred people in a little park in Lower Manhattan to thousands across at least two dozen cities, gaining support from labor unions, celebrities and politicians, it has become harder to ignore. …
“I think this thing will continue to grow,” said Robert Siegfried, a partner who works with financial clients at the communications firm Kekst & Co. “Wall Street is just a term here that represents the huge disparity in income levels and distribution of wealth in this country. For anyone to dismiss it, that’s a terrible underestimation of the sentiment behind this phenomena.” …
Richard Plansky, a senior managing director at the security firm Kroll, said the protests have led to heightened awareness among financial executives whom Kroll protects. “It’s fair to say they’re concerned,” he said, noting that there has been a greater focus on security for Wall Street executives in the aftermath of the 2007-2009 financial crisis. …
With the exception of Rome (and a few incidents by infiltrators trying to discredit the movement) Occupation protests have been peaceful. The movement knows full well that violence would discredit them in the eyes of the majority. The commitment to non-violence is wise, principled, and optimistic.
But will it be effective? Will the 1% just ignore the Occupation movement and carry on as usual? This is quickly shaping up as the biggest ever, world wide test of the efficacy of non-violent protest (civil disobedience, passive resistance, call it what you will).
Those in power would do very well to heed this test, and respond to the Occupation’s concerns in concrete, significant and visible ways. If they don’t, then I fear that the next mass protest movement, when it comes, will have no reason to reach for any tool except violence.
The inequalities in our societies have become too vast to endure. Wealth must be created more sustainably and shared more evenly. Let’s hope that the 1% will have the wisdom to act now, and choose the peaceful solution. While there’s still time.