By Frank Whalen -
What would happen if every American withdrew their money from major global-oriented banks and then deposited it in neighborhood credit unions or local financial institutions? To then send an even clearer message, what if these transactions occurred on Nov. 5—Guy Fawkes Day—a date made famous by the rebellious Hollywood movie V for Vendetta?
Such a notion has been labeled Bank Transfer Day, and it is the brainchild of Kristen Christian, a 27-year-old art gallery owner from California, who wrote on her Facebook page: “I started this because I felt like many of you do. I was tired of the fee increases, tired of not being able to access my money when I need to, tired of them using what little money I have to oppress my brothers and sisters.”
With tensions on the rise and financial unrest exemplified by the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) protests, Bank Transfer Day is intended as a peaceful boycott of mega banks. Kristen stated that such a bank run isn’t potentially damaging to the economy, as she is advocating people simply remove their money from large banking institutions and place it in a credit union.
She explained: “How can your funds have a positive impact on your community if tucked under your mattress? What’s being suggested is that you shift your money to a local not-for-profit credit union.
“The more business credit unions have, the more loans with low rates they’re able to offer to small and medium-sized businesses.”
While not affiliated with OWS, Kristen is clear there is a mutual respect. The difference seems to be that she is seeking a clear and definable action, easily implemented, while the OWS crowd seems to risk injury and police brutality to merely be present there.
However, there are already stories of arrests being made as customers attempt to withdraw their own money. According to “Washington’s Blog,” “Protesters were arrested when they tried to close their Citibank accounts.” They continued: “Bank of America used police (and reportedly SWAT teams) to stop St. Louis Bank of America customers from closing their accounts.” The following rationale was offered in at least one case: “A Bank of America branch in Santa Cruz refused to let protesters close their accounts, saying they could not be protesters and customers at the same time.”
Nov. 5 was chosen as Bank Transfer Day because, Kristen hopes: “This will give a new name to the fifth of November—not as a failed terrorist attack but as Americans standing up and saying we’ve had enough,” the Village Voice wrote on Oct. 7.
Kristen also told the Village Voice: “I’ve been very careful to state that this is not about bringing down the Fed. This is not an act of terrorism or treason. It’s a boycott. It’s as simple as that.” It remains to be seen if the powers that be will try to thwart Bank Transfer Day and crack down on OWS.
In V for Vendetta, the protagonist reminds viewers of this famous nursery rhyme inspired by his actions: “Remember, remember, the fifth of November / Gunpowder treason and plot / I see no reason /Why gunpowder treason / Should ever be forgot.”