Activist Al Pina enters third day of hunger strike against Bank of America
Note Wednesday afternoon update below from Bank of America's Mike Fields...
Al Pina heads the Florida Minority Community Reinvestment Coalition. Last month he threatened to start a water-only hunger strike against Bank of America if the giant bank would not be get more involved in poor minority communities in Florida. The starting date for the hunger strike was June 15, but it was postponed when BofA made some conciliatory remarks.
Photo was taken at today's protest and press conference -- Al Pina's wearing the white shirt -- in Jacksonville, courtesy of FMCRC. The signs say "Bank of America; End Economic Slavery."
Well, those BofA actions apparently were not enough. Pina started his hunger strike this past Monday. I asked him today how it was going. From Jacksonville, here is his response:
"Third day and in JAX. We just finished press conference at BofA branch and got good press. We have a 4pm conference call with BofA today but not sure about their seriousness about the MOU (memorandum of understanding).
"They tell our attorneys they are but then send us agenda for conference call that looks more like a commercial. I will keep you posted. This will be my last hunger strike because my body is not handling it well like the times before."
UPDATE: In response Wednesday, Bank of America sent me a statement from Mike Fields, Florida president for Bank of America:
"While Bank of America disagrees with the statements raised by FMCRC, we stand ready to continue our dialogue today with Mr. Pina to correct the record regarding the level of our commitment and investment in communities across the state of Florida.
"Bank of America is acutely aware of the needs of minority and low-income communities in Florida and nationwide. Our record serving minority communities stands on its own, and is recognized by leading minority groups, diversity publications and others. We also have six consecutive outstanding CRA ratings and Bank of America is delivering on a 10-year, $1.5 trillion community development lending and investing goal – the largest ever established by a U.S. financial institution – to improve the economic health and vitality of the communities we serve. These investments are directed to affordable housing, small business and small farm ownership, consumer loans, and economic development initiatives."
Here's a column I wrote in May about Pina and his organization's mission, and another column from 2005 when a Pina hunger strike was aimed at SunTrust. We'll keep an eye on the showdown between Pina and BofA.
-- Robert Trigaux, Times Business Columnist