ST. LOUIS - Nearly 100 community activists, students and trade unionists rallied outside of the downtown Bank of America here Aug. 12. They were demanding a moratorium on foreclosures and that BOA pay its fair share in taxes.
BOA is one of the largest holders of foreclosed properties in the country. Additionally, they are one of the most profitable companies in America. In fact, BOA made $10 billion in profits last year. However, they paid nothing in taxes.
In these tough economic times, protesters said, BOA should pay its fair share in taxes, and modify loans enabling families to stay in their homes.
Terry Artis, executive director of Show-Me-Sound, a St. Louis-based culture education organization that partners with local schools to build community through drums, said, "A parent of one of the kids in my organization said that she was 'underwater on her house with a loan from Bank of America.'"
"She said, she wanted a re-modification of her loan. That she wanted to have it re-modified. And yet, they [BOA] said she's 'not behind yet.' So she can't re-modify her loan," Artis continued.
"That ain't right! They want to put her in debt, and they want to put her credit in jeopardy. So that they can eventually foreclose on her and put the child out."
"So I'm here today to close two accounts." Artis then attempted to enter BOA to close his personal account and the Show-Me-Sound account. (story continues after video)
About a dozen other BOA customers - including this author - attempted to enter BOA with Artis to close their accounts in protest. However, Bank of America refused to allow customers on to the property. BOA refused to let them close their accounts.
Aimee Royston has been trying to re-modify her BOA home loan for two years now. Royston, with her daughter next to her, told activists, "Interest keeps going on, penalties keep going on, the amount that we owe keeps going on."
"All we want is a modification, to be allowed to make the payments that we say that we can make," Royston continued. "But Bank of America won't let us."
William Taylor, a board member of MORE (Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment) said, "Bank of America made more than $10 billion in profits last year, but they didn't pay any federal income taxes."
Taylor then asked, "I pay my taxes. Do you?" The crowd responded with a "Yeah!" Taylor then asked, "Then why doesn't Bank of America pay their taxes?"
The action was part of the Midwest Rising Convergence, a weekend of direct action, education and community building organized by MORE and other St. Louis-based grassroots, community organizations.
Photo: Tony Pecinovsky/PW