Occupy Protestors Call for Athens Residents to Close Chase Accounts
Ohio University students and Athens residents gathered across from the Chase Bank on Court Street last Friday, calling for patrons to close their accounts with the bank.
The demonstration was organized by members of the Occupy OhioU movement in coordination with several Athens residents. The protest served as a culmination of the Occupy OhioU movement’s weeklong protest of corporate greed and government corruption.
Demonstrators assembled on the steps of the Athens County Court House at noon, handing out fake money, conversing and shaking hands with passing pedestrians.
“Money for jobs and education, not for banks and corporations,” one demonstrator shouted using a megaphone to lead the group in chants.
The demonstration was aimed at encouraging residentss to close their accounts with Chase Bank in favor of more local institutions.
“For us it’s all about keeping the money in the community,” said Tyler Norris, an OU student. “Chase took billions of dollars of taxpayer bailouts … then sat on the money and gave their executives million dollar bonuses.”
Protesters cited Chase Bank as an example of a more widespread problem in the U.S. political system.
“With the current system that’s in place right now there is too much money being spent by private interests, such as corporations, to solidify their influence in our political system,” said Steven Page, a political communications student.
“There is no more good public policy being written anymore. It’s all public policy being written that caters to banks and corporations and the mega powerhouses … to solidify their place in our political system,” Page said.
Members of the local group Democracy Over Corporations were also present at the protest.
“We are here to stand up and be counted against corporations and their money controlling our government,” said Mary Jo Wiley, Athens resident and member of Democracy Over Corporations. “Morgan Chase Bank is one of the largest institutions in the United States. They are the ones writing all the legislation attacking unions and that put voter suppression in over twenty states.”
The protest drew little response from Chase Bank. Chase’s management deferred questions to the media relations department based in Louisville, Kentucky.
“We have no comment except to say that we respect individuals’ rights to express their opinion,” said Nancy Norris, a Chase spokesperson.
The Friday protest lasted two hours and had up to 20 members at one time, a number that drew mixed feelings from those involved in the protest.
“I am actually pretty happy with it,” Page said. “[The students] have been doing this all week, coming up at noon. It seems like people have been paying more attention today than they have all week.”
However, Hunter Wiley, a student at Hocking College, expressed disappointment at the lack of student presence at the protests. “I expected a few more people,” he said. “You can pretty much put all the lack of involvement on the ignorance of people. They don’t care and they don’t know and they don’t want to know. Our generation does not care enough.”
Members of the Occupy OhioU movement said they plan to continue spreading its message however they can.
“We’ve changed some people’s minds for sure, but a week just isn’t enough,” Wiley said. “Less than half the campus even knows we’re here.”