This is an early report. Check back for updates.
Updated 2:25 pm
A broad coalition of activist groups will descend on Charlotte, North Carolina, today to protest Bank of America’s annual shareholders’ meeting. Occupy Wall Street, one of the groups involved in the planning, expects thousands of protesters for a day of nonviolent protest, marches, and theatrics.
I previously wrote about the extraordinary measures the City Manager of Charlotte, Curt Walton, has taken to ensure that one of the largest banks in the world won’t have its peace disturbed by a group of enthusiastic citizens exercising their First Amendment rights. Walton has unilaterally declared the shareholder meeting an “extraordinary event,” meaning the city plans to restrict free speech and expand the ability of police and security forces to target activists.
In New York, the Bank of America–related arrests started early yesterday when police took into custody several Occupy protesters outside the Manhattan offices of BoA after demonstrators briefly blocked midtown traffic with a banner that read, “Bank of America, Bad for America.”
“My house was foreclosed by Bank of America after I lost my job,” Guillermo Calle, 49, an electrical engineer from Hempstead, Long Island, told the New York Daily News.
“It’s not a joke to live without a job. My family depends on me. We don’t deserve to be put on the street. I’ve tried to modify my mortgage five times with Bank of America, but they’d rather put it in a short sale.”
Jaron Benjamin, 32, of Brooklyn, was one of the people arrested.
“I’ve had an account with Bank of America since 1998—since I was old enough to have an account,” said [Benjamin], who said he would be closing his checkings and savings accounts.
“The government is always saying it don’t have the money to pay for social programs we need, but there’s the money right there!” he said, pointing at the bank tower.
Updates will be coming in throughout the day about specific actions, but for now, it seems protesters in North Carolina have gotten off to an early start (Twitter users can follow the unfolding story by searching the #99power hashtag).
Stephen Lerner, a member of the executive board at the Service Employees International Union, sent the Huffington Post the following update: