Occupy COMO protesters march, deliver message to Bank of America

Saturday, November 5, 2011 | 6:21 p.m. CDT; updated 9:02 p.m. CST, Wednesday, November 16, 2011

COLUMBIA — Nicholas Huddleston considers himself an exception. A self-professed socialist, he doesn’t see many like himself in the Occupy COMO movement, and some of his goals differ from the focus of most protesters. But on Saturday afternoon, he and more than 100 others stood united.

Or rather, they marched.

After a brief rally outside City Hall, protesters took to the streets, marching down Broadway from City Hall and circling back to the Bank of America branch on Cherry Street to deliver a message. In an open letter, they enumerated a list of grievances, among them accusations of immoral treatment of customers, abuse of the federal tax system and violations of antitrust laws. They also urged Bank of America customers to transfer their money to nonprofit credit unions.

The march coincided with Bank Transfer Day, a consumer activism initiative asking Americans to transfer money from national commercial banks to local alternatives.

“We have problems with the banks, with the bailouts, all of that,” Huddleston said. “It goes back to the principle of speak with your wallet. If I’m opposed to Bank of America, I shouldn’t have money in that bank. That’s why I use a local bank. It’s all part of the movement.”

Although Occupy COMO is made up of individuals who want to see change in a variety of national issues, the Columbia group recently officially defined its movement: a united front against what it feels is a national system dominated by the wealthy few.

It’s a part of the movement other protesters hope people see.

Protester Ariel Ceara thinks growth is the final step left for the group and said the event gave people who had been sitting on the fence an opportunity to see how things really are.

“People are so confused because the media paints us as a violent, anarchist group of people,” Ceara said. “We saw today that that is not us. Violence is not our message.”

The Occupy COMO message has drawn no shortage of online support, but the online attention hasn’t always translated to in-person activism.

Jahmekya Hanson attended her first rally Saturday and said she will probably attend more when she can.

“I 100 percent support it,” Hanson said. “I’d been kind of following, but I found out about it kind of late — I’ve pretty much been keeping my eye on things ever since I found out about it."

She said she first heard about the Occupy Wall Street movement from "The Daily Show," and now she keeps track of the movement daily through a "99 percent" Tumblr blog. A friend informed her about Saturday's rally on Friday night, and they decided to go.

Ceara said many, such as Hanson, are experiencing the occupy movement for the first time and identifying with the movement. She said the message to Bank of America is just the beginning.

“People are coming together all over the world saying we’re not alone, and we never were, and it’s time for us to reclaim not just our countries but our world,” Ceara said. “It’s time for us to reclaim the people’s voice. It’s a beautiful thing.”

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Mark Foecking November 6, 2011 | 7:03 a.m.

One thing people may have trouble with is some credit unions restrict their membership in some ways (e. g. to teachers, or municipal employees). MissouriCU does not (I think you just have to be a resident of the state), but they're not set up to start hundreds of accounts in one day, especially a Saturday.


(Report Comment)
Michael Williams November 6, 2011 | 7:39 a.m.

Mark: Rumor has it 17 people moved their entire life's savings from BofA. It totaled $89.13.

Some folks need symbols as their cymbals.

(Report Comment)
mike mentor November 6, 2011 | 8:08 a.m.

I think our protesters are getting "left out" again. The protesters in NY, DC, and Chicago are getting paid. (I love paying taxes ;-) Our guys don't look like they are...

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle November 6, 2011 | 11:27 a.m.

OWS Has raised more than $500,000 so far; *way* more than they were expecting to get in donations. And the problems that come with it.

I'm amused at the attention being given to the money angle regarding our protestors. It's like some people have tunnel vision so bad they can't see *anything* bigger than a dollar bill.

This report (and the comments) should make Occupy detractors happy:

This one should make OccupyCOMO supporters happy:

If there's anyone left in the scorched earth middle, raise your hand.

(Report Comment)
Corey Parks November 6, 2011 | 1:10 p.m.

Mr Fogle is there a way to access the OccupyCOMO site without being recorded? I am always up for reading something different yet would hate to think that my accessing that page would make the hit counter go up which in turn could show large amounts of traffic to the page that would eventually turn into advertising cash for the group. I would hate for them to get some of the green that they hate so much.

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle November 6, 2011 | 2:06 p.m.

Can't even spare a pageview count for them?

Stingy. You act like it's paying taxes! I'm not sure I've ever heard a cheaper or cheesier excuse not to consider another person's or group's perspective. Even *I* give pageviews to the likes of Faux News sometimes.

I have no affiliation with the OccupyCOMO website. My closest affiliation to the COMO Collective website that I provided a link to above (which is also not affiliated with the OccupyCOMO website, but did provide a link to the OccupyCOMO site at the bottom of the article I shared) is that they've got a link to my footbag blog in there somewhere.

I do not believe you can defeat their page counter. If that's a stumbling block for anyone, they didn't have good balance to begin with.

(Report Comment)
Gregg Bush November 6, 2011 | 3:46 p.m.

Willful ignorance:
For non-curious minds who
Just don't want to know.

(Report Comment)
Gregg Bush November 6, 2011 | 4:06 p.m.

Zero-sum bunker
Mentality - why bother
When autumn is brisk.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz November 6, 2011 | 7:34 p.m.

Corey, you could try viewing a cached version of the site via Google, but one page view isn't going to make or break a website's advertising. I'm sure there are casual members of the group whose access would far outweigh your single version.

(Report Comment)
Corey Parks November 6, 2011 | 8:43 p.m.

I think some people missed the tongue in cheek comment. I hold the same view of the group as I do of any religious groups. I could take them or leave them.
As long as they are not disrupting too much of my world then let them have fun.
But I do find it very interesting a lot of the things they so much speech out against are the same things that they groups are finding themselves naturally falling in line with without even realizing it. Not talking about COMO but the movement as a whole.

(Report Comment)

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