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Thousands of Protesters Descend on Bank of America Meeting

Several arrested at Bank of America protest, now heading for stadium

- Common Dreams staff

Thousands of protesters marched to the door of Bank of America's annual shareholder meeting in Charlotte, NC today. A large coalition of activist groups including environmental groups, labor unions, and Occupy Wall Street are expecting an eventful day of 'non-violent protest, marches, and theatrics'.

(Photo: Tim Franzen / Occupy Atlanta) Protesters hope to highlight Bank of America's relationship with the federal government, the coal industry and foreclosure abuse. Three marches from around the city eventually converged at the doors of Bank of America.

Reports are now surfacing of at least four arrests outside of the meeting.

The protests will not be met quietly as Allison Kilkenny reported at the Nation: "City Manager of Charlotte, Curt Walton, has unilaterally declared the shareholder meeting an "extraordinary event," meaning the city plans to restrict free speech and expand the ability of police and security forces to target and profile the homeowners, worker, community members, students and immigrants who plan to demand justice from one of the largest banks in the country."

After gathering for two hours in front of the bank building, the group is now marching toward Bank of America Stadium.

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Allison Kilkenny/The Nation: Thousands Turn Out to Protest Bank of America Shareholders' Meeting

A broad coalition of activist groups will descend on Charlotte, NC today to protest Bank of America's annual shareholders' meeting. Occupy Wall Street, one of the groups involved in the planning, expects thousands of protesters for a day of non-violent protest, marches, and theatrics.

I previously wrote about the extraordinary measures the City Manager of Charlotte, Curt Walton, has taken to ensure one of the largest banks in the world won't have its peace disturbed by a group of enthusiastic citizens exercising their First Amendment rights. Walton has unilaterally declared the shareholder meeting an "extraordinary event," meaning the city plans to restrict free speech and expand the ability of police and security forces to target activists.

In New York, the Bank of America-related arrests started early yesterday when police arrested several Occupy protesters outside the Manhattan offices of BoA after demonstrators briefly blocked midtown traffic with a banner that read, "Bank of America, Bad for America."

"My house was foreclosed by Bank of America after I lost my job,” Guillermo Calle, 49, an electrical engineer from Hempstead, Long Island, told New York Daily News.

“It's not a joke to live without a job. My family depends on me. We don't deserve to be put on the street. I've tried to modify my mortgage five times with Bank of America, but they'd rather put it in a short sale.”

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Reuters: Protesters voice anger outside BofA annual meeting

Hundreds of demonstrators marched outside Bank of America Corp's (BAC.N) annual shareholder meeting on Wednesday to voice anger over a range of issues from foreclosures to corporate taxes to financing for the coal industry.

The meeting, held in the bank's headquarters city of Charlotte, North Carolina, has drawn protesters in the past, but the crowd this year was bigger than any time in recent memory.

Demonstrators staged a mock boxing match between two fighters, one said to represent the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans, and the other representing the other 99 percent. The group coordinating the protests calls itself "99 Percent Power."

Inside the meeting, stockholders are set to vote on the bank's executive pay plan, elect directors and get a chance to voice their opinions to Chief Executive Brian Moynihan.

Moynihan said at the beginning of the meeting that the bank will enforce time limits on speakers, and that people who fail to follow the rules will be asked to leave.

Inspired by the Occupy Wall Street movement, demonstrators have been targeting corporate shareholder meetings this year to keep a spotlight on concerns about economic disparity in the United States. More than 500 demonstrators engulfed Wells Fargo & Co's (WFC.N) meeting site in April, resulting in 24 arrests.

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Charlotte Observer: 5 arrested at Bank of America protest

The protest is billed by its organizers, Unity Alliance and 99% Power, as the "Showdown in Charlotte." They are protesting Bank of America's policies on foreclosures, and the bank's support of the coal industry.

The protest was aimed to coincide with Bank of America's annual shareholders meeting Wednesday morning.

After gathering for nearly two hours in front of the bank building, the group moved about 11 a.m., marching toward Bank of America Stadium to continue their protest there. Police prepared to reopen the College-5th Street intersection around 11:30 a.m.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg police Major Jeff Estes said there were four arrests, rather than the five arrests that were reported earlier. He said police did not conduct any searches of backpacks, a power given them by the city's new ordinance limiting protests.

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Democracy Now!: From Coal to Foreclosures, Bank of America Faces Protest at Shareholders Meeting in Charlotte

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