CHARLOTTE, NC (RNN) - Six protesters were arrested Wednesday outside Bank of America headquarters as hundreds of people rallied at the bank's annual shareholders meeting.
The protesters were trying to force their way into the building. WBTV says about 500 protesters gathered to highlight the bank's role in the nation's housing crisis and foreclosures, as well as other practices it deems unfair to average citizens.
The protesters represent members of the Occupy Wall Street movement, homeowners, students, immigrants, environmentalists, workers, women's rights organizations and peace activists, blogger Allison Kilkenny reports.
Protester Emma Ladson said the demonstrations are meant to send the message that when people come together, they can wield real power.
"We believe the message is being heard. We are the 99 percent, and we want to take back our country," she said. "The greedy banks are taking our homes and evicting people and throwing them into the streets. We want to say, 'Stop the Greed now, Bank of America, stop the greed now!'"
Outside the building, police had prepared in advance for the protests.
An ordinance passed to address such a protest gives local police expanded power to search and detain people outside a major gathering.
Called the extraordinary events ordinance, it "prohibits camping, obstruction, possession/dispersal of noxious substances and other activities on public property, roadways or public rights of way."
It also prohibits the use of backpacks, any type of item that could be used as a weapon, as well as masks to conceal his or her identity.
At the meeting, 92 percent of shareholders voted to approve executive pay plan. CEO Brian Moynihan listened to shareholder after shareholder complained about the bank's policies, practices and support of the coal industry, with some shareholders taking the mic several times.
One shareholder, whose microphone was shut off shortly after he began speaking, railed against the bank and its actions after the 2008 housing bubble collapse.
"I'm of the judgment that Bank of America is a felon," the shareholder said. "I don't believe that Bank of America would be here today without the 99 percent of taxpayers that bailed out Bank of America. The $45 billion that you received pales behind the hundreds of billions that were guaranteed in bonds, commercial paper, and the list goes on and on."
Moynihan comes into the meeting one of the worst performing bank CEOs in the country.
Banking analysts ranked Moynihan at the bottom among big banks based on the company's stock performance. Fortune Magazine reported since Moynihan took the helm in 2010, the bank's stocks have plummeted 42 percent.
On Tuesday, protester Bridgette Flaherty said protesters were being bussed in from several surrounding cities.
"So far, we know we have buses from Asheville, Durham, Raleigh, Wilmington, Greensboro, and Chapel Hill," she said. "What we're going to have tomorrow is the 99 percent in one corner, and Brian Big Banks Moynihan in the other."
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