Venture

Robert Trigaux

Bank of America's got a big PR (PRotest) problem that won't go away

Wake up and good morning. Bank of America, a dominant financial institution in Florida's banking market for many years, encountered major protests at its annual shareholders meeting on Wednesday in its headquarters town of Charlotte, N.C. Between 500 and 750 people marched from three different directions to Bank of America's corporate headquarters. By 3pm, six people had been arrested says this Charlotte Observer story. (Check out the Observer's video coverage here. Note the giant "DEBT" ball and chain.)

Here's a visual sampling:

Hundreds of protesters converged (below) Wednesday morning on the bank's downtown building.

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As reported here by MSNBC, organizers said there were so many reasons to dislike Bank of America that it was easy to pull together a large group of protesters, some from as far way as Portland, San Francisco and New York. (Photo above: Reuters, Jason Miczek.)

Protest signs range from "Stop Corporate Greed" to "Banksters are Corporate Thugs."

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While protesters gathered outside, others made their objections known inside the auditorium where Bank of America held its annual meeting. Shareholder after shareholder took to available microphones to berate the bank for its handling of home foreclosures, as well as its investments in payday lenders and even the coal industry. When BofA CEO Brian Moynihan (he's lampooned outside in the protest video link above) tried to sidestep or deflect hard questions from the podium, he was met with loud jeers. Read more from this USA Today story. The rowdy meeting came even as shareholders approved Moynihan's $7 million pay package, reports the New York Post here. (Photo: AP.)

When "Bank of America" becomes "Bank vs America" (above) and "Bad for America" (below), then you've got big PR problems.

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Even in the streets of New York, activists marched against Bank of America on Tuesday, the day before the annual meeting in Charlotte. Why do we care in Florida? Because Bank of America is one of the top two banks by market share in the state and their litany of poor customer service practices has become legendary in the Sunshine State. The bank is by no means the only large financial institution to bungle basic services but it is the national lightning rod -- if only because of its symbolic name. If this is the Bank of America, what does that mean for the state of this country? (Photo: AP.)

By the way, look at these photos and multiply the protester numbers by 20 or 30, at least. That's what's coming to Tampa in August to protest the Republican National Convention...

-- Robert Trigaux, Business Columnist, Tampa Bay Times

[Last modified: Thursday, May 10, 2012 8:07am]

    

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