The flowering of Occupy Wall Street into a nationwide and even international movement has been something to behold. The mounting frustration with the structural inequalities in our system -- bailouts for the rich and the leftover crumbs for everyone else -- has finally boiled over. There are probably as many reasons to occupy Wall Street as there are Wall Street fat cats, but one thing everyone has in common is being fed up with the greed of the richest 1 percent.
The Rainforest Action Network has been campaigning to get the big Wall Street banks to quit funding coal and driving climate change for years now. So it may seem, on the face of it, like the Occupy Wall Street fight is not quite the same as our fight. But it really is. As Naomi Klein recently said to me, "The same logic that has trashed the economy is trashing the planet and we need to make those connections incessantly, because that's how you build a truly mass movement."
Not Everyone Can Occupy Zuccotti Park, But Everyone Can Say No to Bank of America
We're doing our part by giving bank customers around the country the opportunity to show their discontent with the big banks by pledging to stop doing business with Bank of America. All of the 'Not One More Dollar' pledges we receive (to close BofA bank accounts and/or to boycott its ATMs) will be bundled -- much like the big banks packaged mortgages for sale -- and presented to Bank of America executives in protest of the bank's funding of coal, the country's number one contributor to climate change.
Over the past two years, Bank of America has invested $4.3 billion in coal. It is the biggest bank in the world and the biggest underwriter of the coal industry -- bankrolling coal mining, infrastructure investments and coal-fired power plants around the country. Why does this matter? Coal kills between 13,000 and 34,000 people a year. That's one person every 15 minutes.
It's not just its funding of coal that we should be holding Bank of America accountable for, of course. The list of grievances over BofA's behavior is a very, very long one. Bank of America has recently announced it will charge customers up to $60 a year to use their debit cards at the same time that it is laying off 30,000 employees. Bank of America is also a leading forecloser of Americans' homes.
And then there's the fact that Wall Street banks have infected our political system. Here again, we find that the same interests that have blocked federal action on climate change are being bankrolled by BofA to cook our climate and spew pollution into our communities.
Bank of America's customers want the bank to take responsibility for the social and environmental consequences of its lending practices, and the Not One More Dollar pledge is a way for people to communicate that. I urge you to sign it now and put Bank of America on notice.
Follow Rebecca Tarbotton on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@beckytarbotton