About 200 people, representing a diverse array of organizations and unions, marched in Miami on Tuesday to demand accountability from Bank of America and to support the Occupy Miami movement. The protest came on the same day Bank of America announced it is dropping a controversial proposal to charge $5 for using debit card use.
The march originated at the Greater Bethel AME Church in Overtown, a historically black neighborhood, met with members of Occupy Miami, camped out in what they call Peace City, and arrived at the downtown building of Bank of America.
“What we’re doing here is taking the audience of Occupy, we have over 13,000 fans on Facebook, to put all that energy into the groups that understand Miami, and have been working for years, and help validate their struggles and breath new life into their issues and causes,” Occupy Miami’s Bruce Wayne told The Florida Independent. “It is not just us, but us in conjunction with other activists.”
According to a press release issued by the Miami Workers Center:
Inspired by the Occupy Movement, and a call of the 99% to reclaim the U.S. economy from corporations and big banks Miami residents and community organizations will march from one of the poorest neighborhoods in the city to a downtown branch of Bank of America to close their accounts and call out the bank on new fees, and its foreclosure practices.
Rosana Araujo, a Miami resident and activist, told the Independent that Occupy Miami represents students, young people fighting for education at lower costs, “but it does not represent the working class. Here they are not fighting for housing, for undocumented immigrants; it is a middle-class movement.”
Hashim Yeomans-Benford, lead organizer of the Miami Workers Center, told the Independent that people in the U.S. and Miami are waking up, and that while big banks like Bank of America, which created the recession, are getting bailed out, people are suffering, losing their homes and looking for jobs.
“Miami Workers Center is very excited about this movement,” Yeomans-Benford said. “Today is part of a statewide day of action called Awake the State, so Awake Miami is part of Awake the State, today you have Florida Immigrant Coalition, Power U and unions like SEIU, the AFL, UNITE/HERE and Occupy Miami, and you have here the opportunity to build a broad progressive front to demand real change and real accountability.”
Jay Mehta — the lead organizer of UNITE/HERE, a union that represents more than 4,000 workers in South Florida — told the Independent that banks like Bank of America have sponsored anti-union meetings “to cut public pensions, to cut public benefits and break unions.”
“We’re telling everybody today that you have to close your Bank of America accounts and go to community banks and credit unions,” Mehta added.
“We are already drawing up a coalition, working together in events,” Mehta said, “there are many local issues that haven’t been tackled in a long time, and the Occupy Miami movement is giving other unions, other organizations of like-minded principles, the opportunity to bridge the gap for people to work together. We might have academics, hotel workers, firefighters, but all of us understand that we are part of the 99 percent, and that we can build, and work together.”