Wall Street Movement Hits Morris Avenue

UNION — The Occupy Wall Street movement has made the concentration of wealth at the top of society a central issue in American politics and some local citizens showed up on Morris Avenue to prove that Americans have power to change the situation.

Karen Edwards of Union and other members of a progressive group called MoveOn.org staged a protest outside the Bank of America branch office on Morris Avenue as part of a national effort calling on consumers to move their money from big banks to credit unions and community banks.

“Credit unions and small banks have seen big jumps in new account openings thanks to this weekend’s ‘Move Your Money’ initiative,” said MoveOn activist James J. Devine of Rahway. “Since Bank of America announced plans to introduce a controversial debit card fee on Sept. 29, at least 650,000 consumers have joined credit unions.”

That’s more than a year’s worth of new members signing up in a single month, according to a report from the Credit Union National Association that said those institutions added only 600,000 members in all of 2010.

A majority of new account holders at the E53 Credit Union in Linden said they were defecting from Bank of America, which helped spark this weekend’s social-media-fueled movements when it tried to introduce a debit card fee in late September. (Bank of America has since reversed course and will not implement the originally planned debit card fee.)

The Independent Community Bankers of America saw a similar spike in traffic to its online community bank locator. From Friday to Sunday, page views jumped 500 percent from the previous weekend.

About 153,000 people promised to take their money out of major financial institutions as part of the “Move Your Money” initiative, but Devine said this is only a beginning.

“With 58 million retail and small business accounts, Bank of America remains ‘too big to fail’ and it is going to take much more effort to cut them down to size,” said Devine. “Too big to fail is simply too big because it means the rich can get away with murder.”

“At least 3,362 Americans have been arrested in demonstrations protesting Wall Street greed while no corporate executives have been prosecuted for financial fraud and other crimes that contributed to the global economic meltdown,” said Devine. “Move your money to protect your rights to liberty, prosperity, equality and justice.”

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