YORKTOWN, N.Y. — A small group of protesters carrying signs that read "Bad for America" and "Save the American Dream" rallied outside the Bank of America branch in Yorktown on Wednesday as part of nationwide demonstrations against corporate greed and unfair business practices.
The protest at the Triangle Shopping Center lasted only about 30 minutes. Yorktown police broke up the rally because a required permit was not obtained, but the message of the American Dream Movement was delivered loud and clear.
"We're protesting the Bank of America because they are the poster child for everything that is going wrong in this country," said Tim Barnes, council organizer for MoveOn.org Northern Westchester/Putnam. "This bank needs to change or go away."
Barnes said Bank of America was the largest recipient of government bailout funds with $230 billion, yet cut back loans from 2007 to 2010, charged customers $8 billion in fees in 2011 and has one of the lowest rates of any of the major lending services in putting homeowners into loan modifications under the federal Home Affordable Mortgage Program to avoid foreclosures.
Deborah May, a former Buchanan resident who now lives in a senior trailer park in Mahopac, said she is worried the country is heading back in the direction of an economic recession.
"I'm very concerned the banks are still operating under the same regulations as they were before they took the bailout," said May, who works for ARCS as a community service HIV/AIDS trainer. "That was very frightening, and we may have the same situation. Nothing has changed."
A Yorktown resident and 15-year Bank of America customer who declined to be identified said she was withdrawing her money and depositing it in TD Bank.
Peekskill resident George Ondek showed his support for the protesters and said the banks that benefited from the bailout should help homeowners with their mortgages.
"This isn't a Yorktown issue," he said. "It affects everyone. It's a shame what the banks put us through in 2008."
The protest was designed to coincide with the Bank of America's shareholder meeting in North Carolina. Representatives for Bank of America did not respond to a request for comment.