In Charlotte, North Carolina, there’s apparently a growing deadly threat to worry about. It seems that protesters there are getting unruly these days – so unruly that local businesses have brought on extra security detail to help out the local police.
That’s what happened when one such group of protesters descended upon the Bank of America headquarters on Saturday, May 8th. The group showed up around lunchtime, eager to protest the financial reform bill currently making its way through the Senate. Upon their arrival, not only were they met by three Charlotte police cars and a couple of local officers, but evidently Bank of America had somehow caught wind of the event and sent out another six or so Bank of America paid security staff. As an extra precaution, the bank had also hired at least two Wackenhut security officers to augment their usual staff. Apparently, Bank of America felt it necessary to prepare for some sort of pending siege – these are Tea Party protesters we’re talking about here. According to our own members of Congress and their allies, they’ve deemed Tea Partiers, the very constituents they are supposed to represent, a violent, racist bunch of potentially unstable people.
Well, when I heard about the incident, I couldn’t wait to get a look at these dangerous rabble-rousers.
So this is the riot mob that Bank of America sent out its security force, including extras from Wackenhut, to aggressively resist.
Meanwhile, these protesters showed up simply to draw attention to Bank of America’s role in trying to influence the current financial reform legislation. In North Carolina, Bank of America has a special place in the heart of Democratic Senator Kay Hagan, who has been pushing an amendment to the bill on behalf of the giant bank. (Coincidentally, it also benefits another of the Senator’s AND Bank of America’s favorites, the Center for Responsible Lending…but that’s for another post).
Hagan, a former Vice President with Bank of America who oversaw subprime lending programs there, has proposed the amendment under the guise of “protecting consumers”, but when Bank of America is a staunch supporter of the legislation, it’s easy to be suspicious of anyone’s supposed good intent.
Hagan’s amendment would control the types of financial products that you as a consumer would be permitted, under federal law, to purchase. It will limit consumers to no more than six and as few as one loan per year during a 12-month period for “covered” loans – those include anything from car title loans, installment loans, and payday loans to even some retail company credit plans. For instance, if you purchased a large appliance from a department store or home improvement center and financed it through store credit with a payment plan of installments, you might be literally barred by law from purchasing another appliance in that same 12-month period if you intend to pay for it through installments on another company credit plan.
To enforce these controls, the government would create a national database to track the loan products that ordinary citizens are purchasing, and would require certain lending institutions – including banks, mortgage lenders (except for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which are both exempted from the bill), car dealers, retail companies that offer credit plans, and even some doctors and dentists – to comply by providing information about you, your loans, and your bank account details to a bureaucratic agency managing the database.
So it’s no wonder local Tea Party, 912 Project groups, and other liberty-minded activists in the Charlotte area tried to pull together a spontaneous grassroots protest at the Bank of America headquarters there. Upon learning of the amendment and the bank’s support of it, they gathered this past Saturday to draw attention to the amendment, and to the bill in general.
While it was a small gathering, the group arrived with signs and attempted to draw attention to their message from passers-by. Since the bank was actually open for business, many people were going about their business in and out of the building. Protesters said the local Charlotte police almost even seemed embarrassed and surprised at the show of force from bank of America. They were courteous to the group and even sent some of their officers back to the station after it was obvious the group posed no threat to the property or to any people.
However, Bank of America security, including the Wackenhut officers, saw it differently.
Protesters describe being spoken to by Bank of America guards with contempt. They were immediately told to leave the premises, even though the bank was open for business and they’d stayed out on the sidewalk area. Instead, the security detail then stood them down in a single file. We’re receiving video and photo as of this writing but it’s almost comical to see the initial visuals, because their show of force actually outnumbered the number of protesters.
After some not-so-friendly direction given them by one of the plain clothes security officers and then a Wackenhut officer, the protesters moved to a different area of the property location, where the boundary line between private and public property was demonstrated for them. They cooperated without issue and proceeded to simply stand in the designated area with their signs. Meanwhile, they describe the security detail as angrily watching over them and treating them as though they were common criminals, while passersby looked on. One plain clothes security officer got on his cell phone and spoke most of the time with an unidentified party, seemingly giving a play by play description of the protesters and their activity. In viewing some of the initial photos we received, the man clearly wasn’t happy.
The incident is especially interesting because it’s in such stark contrast with similar protests by left wing activists and labor unions. Take, for example, these photos from other Bank of America protests, where security, if present at all, simply stepped aside and went about their business.
There’s no question that Tea Party, 912 Project groups and other activists who stand for the Constitution and against overreaching government are portrayed by this administration unfairly, and certainly not treated with the same respect and fairness that labor unions and progressive activists enjoy. That’s because while Democrats and left wing groups have made it a central theme of their platform to demonize companies like Bank of America, chanting slogans like “End Corporate Excess” and “Main Street Not Wall Street,” the truth is that behind the scenes the two are bedfellows on the same side. After all, Bank of America and many of the other big banks actually support the financial reform bill. And Democrats like Kay Hagan are reeling in the big bucks in donations from the very banks from which they claim to be protecting us helpless consumers. That’s why it’s no surprise that the financial reform bill has moved so quietly through the legislative process. If Democrats draw too much attention to it, opposing grassroots activists might take notice. Instead, they’ve relied upon labor unions and Organizing for America to distract us all from that reality, with their dramatic stunts like “Showdown on Wall Street“, and “Bust up Big Banks” rallies.
Unfortunately, it’s a strategy that’s worked, because the Tea Party grassroots have all but been asleep on this issue. At least, until now they were.
“I can’t believe people haven’t been aware of this bill and some of the things that are in it. It’s a surprise to many of us – we didn’t even realize it was this close to coming up for the Senate vote. We’ve been so focused on this statewide Health Care Repeal, that we almost missed the financial reform bill entirely. Hopefully we have enough time to wake some folks up quickly enough to get engaged in this before it’s too late,” explained David DeGerolamo, a Tea Party and 912 Project organizer from North Carolina who built NCfreedom.us, a statewide coalition and website under which many of the local and state patriot groups could organize and coordinate while still maintaining their independence.
“We need to get these people back to the principles of the constitution that made this country great. It’s about freedom of enterprise, not government intervention into enterprise. The government is solely the problem in just about anything that has a problem. Almost anything that’s wrong can be traced right back to the big fingerprint of the government.”
DeGerolamo was also referring to another statewide effort underway in the state of North Carolina, related to the recently passed Health Care legislation. On May 12th, State Senator Debbie Clary will introduce legislation that would exempt citizens and businesses of North Carolina from participation in any federally mandated health care. According to NCfreedom, twenty-two states have so far filed lawsuits against the health care mandate.
The group is hosting a huge statewide rally on May 12th, where at least twenty grassroots groups from across the state of North Carolina will march on the general assembly building and peacefully demand that the bills be brought to the floor for a vote. And after this weekend’s incident at Bank of America, he’s decided to expand the topic to the financial reform legislation as well so that the grassroots groups are aware of the importance of the legislation and its constitutional impact on the rights and personal liberties of American citizens and our free enterprise system.
Given the discovery that even many doctors and dentists who accommodate payment plans for their patients may be regulated under this financial reform bill as well, the expansion seems that much more appropriate.
And going back to the protest at Bank of America’s building for a moment, one quick video clip will sum up the story well.
As the protesters began to wrap up their exercise and stood alongside the bank looking on from the sidewalk, four or five kids began riding their bikes and doing tricks in front of the bank, right in the exact same spot from which the protesters had just been chased away for being on private property. I guess they weren’t as threatening as that crazy, violent bunch of Tea Party protesters.
I think after this Bank of America incident, it’s clear that our rights are being eroded faster than most of us can keep up with. After all, how many of you have been asleep for this financial reform bill? But this wakeup call’s come just in time for NCFreedom’s statewide rally on May 12th in Raleigh, NC. I have the feeling the Raleigh event has probably just become Tea Party and grassroots central – the hot ticket event for this week.
If you’re anywhere near North Carolina, you can learn more about it here. BigGovernment editor Mike Flynn has also just been invited to speak at the event.
Stay tuned – we should have some video posted on the Bank of America incident shortly. I’m not sure whether it will tick you off, or make you laugh, but it will probably do both.