Since its inception on October 1st, Occupy Buffalo has taken their part in the fight against “Too Big to Fail Banks” holding several actions in Buffalo’s financial district a couple blocks away from the Niagara Square encampment. Though there is only one location in the City of Buffalo, an office in the dubiously named Liberty Building which is occupied by bankers, lawyers and other representatives of the one percent, JPMorgan Chase Bank holds all of the city’s money. Over 400 million dollars of our taxpayer dollars are leveraged against the people of Buffalo every year.

On Wednesday May 30th, City Comptroller Mark J.F. Schroeder announce that 45 million dollars will be withdrawn from JPMorgan Chase Bank and put into First Niagara who has agreed to a lower interest rate “funding will earn 0.30 percent interest, more than the 0.25 percent interest rate it had been getting with JPMorgan” according to Schroeder’s statement.

“Not only will the funds earn more interest with First Niagara, a major local employer headquartered in Buffalo, but it also sends a crystal clear message to JPMorgan Chase that the City of Buffalo is not happy with their business practices,”

City Comptroller Mark J.F. Schroeder

As a one of the organizers of the series of actions held against JP Morgan Chase in front of the Main Place Tower, this small victory is proof that activism has an effect. Too often we are disillusioned by the absence of immediate response to our efforts. When this issue was first addressed, members of the Council showed little genuine concern for our objections to City funds being held with an unscrupulous bank, one with no presence in the city of Buffalo. Many on the Council referred to the responsibility of the Federal Government to regulate Big Banks. Supposedly due to its size JPMorgan was the best option because they could provide the best interest rate. We persisted and returned to the Council Chambers to push the issue, and we also went to the JPMorgan Chase office to send a message to the Chase executives in Buffalo.

Our Most recent action was a Wall Street Casino held in front of the Chase Office after reports of their $2 Billion (and counting) loss. During the action, Chase Executives observed with a typically one percent air of superiority refusing to engage in any kind of dialogue except to ask if we had jobs. Occupy Buffalo returned to Common Council on May 22nd to push further as the Council had offered a compromise of a loosely worded Good Banking policy that did little but ask for more information from banks about their practices. Though Council Member LoCourto expressed some concerns, the rest of the Council seemed to view the issue as a nuisance. Demone Smith said simply, “we have been looking in to it…and we have some ideas” About a week later the announcement to withdraw $45 million dollars was made. Persistence is the path to progress and Occupy Buffalo’s efforts are proof that activism can create change, even when it looks like it’s being ineffective.

 

Through Rain Through Snow Occupy Buffalo