October 22, 2011

Occupy Maine take its protest to the bank

Bank of America is focus of a diverse group of demonstrators.

By Emma Bouthillette ebouthillette@mainetoday.com
Staff Writer

PORTLAND - About three dozen protesters gathered outside the Bank of America branch at One City Center on Friday to demonstrate against big banks and big corporations.

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Sources: AP/GfK Roper Public Affairs & Corporate Communications

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The crowd was diverse -- ranging from college students to 80- and 90-year-olds to people in tattered clothing to people in suits -- but their message was a common one.

"We are the 99 percent," they chanted over and over.

Organized by Occupy Maine, which started occupying Monument Square and Lincoln Park earlier this month in solidarity with the Occupy Wall Street movement, the protesters handed out flyers to passers-by.

"Why Pick on Bank of America?" the flyer asked.

Because Bank of America is one of the largest banks, the flyer read, holding more than $2.2 trillion in assets while receiving $45 billion in taxpayer-funded bailouts in 2008 and 2009.

Numbers like that prompted the crowd to chant, "Unacceptable!"

Bank of America's Northeast region spokesman, T.J. Crawford, said in a phone interview that the bank would have no comment on the protest.

Jinnie Delano stood on the periphery of the group, holding the cover of the August issue of The New Yorker magazine, with an illustration of "fat cats" sailing away in a life raft, drinking champagne while a ship goes down in the background.

Delano, who lives in the Piper Shores retirement community in Scarborough, said she and six other Piper Shores residents attended the event to support Occupy Maine and the protest.

"We're all concerned about the deep division between haves and have-nots," she said.

Andrew Cadot came from Roque Bluffs in coastal Washington County to join the group. The retired lawyer wore a gray suit and listened closely to what the speakers said.

"I think it's outrageous the 1 percent is not paying their fair share," he said. "I just look around and say this is not the way the world should be run."

Next to him was Mary Cook, a graduate student at the University of New England. She said she's in the second year of a master's degree program in social work and joined the protest in support of the 99 percent.

"I work with a lot of people that are homeless and lacking so many basic rights," she said.

The crowd remained orderly throughout the hour-long protest, but two security guards from One City Center were stationed outside the bank entrance as a precaution.

Staff Writer Emma Bouthillette can be contacted at 791-6325 or at: ebouthillette@pressherald.com

 

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