ST. LOUIS - "We're tired of corporate America and the CEOs taking all our money," Ashli Bolden said as over 100 people protested inside the Bank of America tower here on March 24.
Bolden, an organizer for the Missouri Progressive Vote Coalition, added, "Corporate bonuses and golden parachutes have got to go. They are the ones that got us into this mess, and now they're using our tax dollars for bonuses!"
Last year Bank of America received $45 billion in federal funding, while its CEO, Kenneth Lewis, received $10 million in bonuses in 2008, 400 times what the average Bank of America teller is paid. Since 2001, Lewis has received over $136 million in pay, bonuses, stock options and pension contributions.
Johnathan McFarland, from the grassroots organization MORE (Missourians Organized for Reform and Empowerment), said, "It's not just about bonuses. Bank of America is aggressively foreclosing on people's homes. All they care about is profit."
As part of the action, protesters set up a tent inside of the Bank of America lobby, demanding to meet with Jack Schakett, BOA's loss mitigation executive. Loss mitigators are supposed to negotiate terms for homeowners to prevent foreclosures.
Protester Richard Monroe fell behind on his mortgage while his wife was fighting cancer. "I've been trying to re-modify my loan for a year," he told protesters.
"And all I want to do is keep my home," he added. "I will pay everything I owe. Just re-modify this loan for me, get it taken care of and then I'll pay everything off when the economy turns around."
Robin Acree, from rural Missouri-based Grass Roots Organizing (GRO), said, "Bank of America is bad for America. They are bad for our economy, bad for business and bad for home owners."
Video from the lively St. Louis rally:
Photo: PW/Tony Pecinovsky