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Forum Post: Lessons from Saul Alinsky on shutting down a bank

Posted 3 years ago on Nov. 19, 2011, 4:48 p.m. EST by occupiedinCHI (23)
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It seems we're missing some of the basic organizing principles in going after Wall Street. While I agree that the target (Wall Street) is dead on, we need better tactics. Here is a basic idea for holding the banks accountable and forcing change, based on Saul Alinsky's principles:

First, we have so far failed to personify the problem. For the vast majority of people, systems are too vague. While I think we have to keep our focus on the underlying systems, the masses will be more willing to help if they have a specific focus. So, when we talk about "Wall Street" or the "banking industry" or even specific banks, I suggest we instead make an effort to focus on specific individuals. We would be much more effective to talk about Brian Moynihan (CEO of Bank of America) than to talk more generally about systems or companies. Make him the face of the system. Mention his name every time you talk about our banking system. Highlight specific things that Bank of American has done. General boycotts, like moving our money to credit unions are important, but they are a drop in the bucket and they tend to be ineffective. We will be more effective to take 20% of Bank of America's profit than to take 5% of the industry's profits. This also allows us to focus our action, which has been difficult.

Once Bank of America (and their CEO) are selected as our target, our efforts can be concentrated. We can organize people to stand outside every B of A branch, everyday, and hand out flyers that specifically state why they should choose a different bank. Credit unions would be ideal, but even having them go across the street to Chase will have an effect. We can also legally tie up their business. We can promise to send 100 people per day into profitable, high volume branches in wealthy areas. Send people in 2 or 3 at a time to discuss opening new accounts. All you have to do is sit down with an adviser, discuss all their products from checking to savings to credit cards to money marketing accounts for 20-30 minutes, then say "no thanks" and leave. There is no defense for that. They can get hostile and start interrogating people when they walk through the door, but that will play into our hands because they're going to turn off legitimate customers. We can protest outside the homes of their highest level executives. It won