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C&L Opening Bell: Organizing Against The Banks

One of my favorite political groups to spring up over the past year has been UK Uncut, a British grassroots campaign that arose to oppose Conservative Party budget cuts by pointing out how British companies engage in obscene levels of tax avoidance.

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One of my favorite political groups to spring up over the past year has been UK Uncut, a British grassroots campaign that arose to oppose Conservative Party budget cuts by pointing out how British companies engage in obscene levels of tax avoidance. What makes this campaign so effective is how it plays into basic notions of fairness: The Tories are asking average Britons to swallow tuition hikes and cuts to heating assistance all while gigantic companies like Vodafone get away with paying next to nothing in taxes. Johann Hari has a very important article in this month's Nation about how the group got started and how it changed the political conversation in the UK. I highly recommend giving it a read.

At any rate, UK Uncut this month is now turning their attention to an extremely worthy target: Britain's financial institutions:

Protest movement UK Uncut is to target British banks as part of a wave of fresh demonstrations next week.

The group, which has mounted dozens of demos at high street stores which it accuses of evading tax in recent months, wants to help focus public attention on the cost of recent bank bailouts at the start of the coming 'bonus season'.

[...]

The first day of action is expected on 19 February. Activist Daniel Garvin told the Guardian: 'The idea this time is not to shut these places down but to open up high street banks, occupying them and using them for things that may be more useful for the community.'

Now this is something I'd like to see replicated in the good ol' Yoo Ess of Ay!

And there's good news for us on that front, since WikiLeaks has promised to release damaging information on Bank of America sometime this year. Bank of America is an absolute perfect target for an American counterpart to UK Uncut. Why? Let us count the ways:

  • BofA is a gigantic Frankenstein's monster of other financial institutions and is a perfect symbol for just how dangerous banks can be when they get too large and powerful.
  • As the proud owner of infamous subprime lender Countrywide, BofA is up to its neck in the foreclosure fraud scandal.
  • Bank of America was one of the biggest users of the Federal Reserve's emergency discount window during the financial crisis, as the bank went to the Fed trough nearly every day for nearly half a year.

So let's see: A gigantic bank that has a history of gobbling up other big financial institutions, that is instrumental in kicking Americans out of their homes and (best of all!) ran to the Fed for help every chance it got! Can you imagine a better target? And unlike Goldman Sachs, BofA has highly visible branches in major cities throughout the U.S.

So here's what I propose: During tax season, when the Tea Parties will be out in full force shrieking about gubmint socialism, we launch nationwide protests against Bank of America branches that mimic the disruptive tactics that UK Uncut has so cleverly employed thus far. If we make a big enough stink at enough BofA branches across America, it will give our illustrious press corps a new shiny object to play with that doesn't involve powdered wigs and tricorner hats.

So what say you, MoveOn and other liberal groups? I'll use my megaphone to promote you if y'all want to help organize?

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