Melville Bank of America Protested

Occupy Huntington protesters rallied outside of the Bank of America in Melville on Wednesday, May 9, 2012 (Danielle Fassman/Long Island Press)
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Long Island protesters rallied outside of the Bank of America in Melville on Wednesday, May 9, 2012 (Danielle Fassman/Long Island Press)

Protesters on Long Island rallied against Bank of America in Melville on Wednesday in support of similar events nationwide timed to coincide with the company’s shareholder meeting.

About 40 protestors gathered in the rain, blasting the bank for not paying enough taxes, foreclosing on homes unjustly, disadvantaging homeowners rather than helping them refinance and financing projects that are detrimental to public health.

“We’re here today in solidarity with the Bank of America shareholder meeting in North Carolina,” said Massapequa resident Lisa Oldendorp, a MoveOn.org organizer for LI. “We want Bank of America to do more to help homeowners avoid foreclosure and get its money out of politics.”

Occupy Huntington, Occupy Port Jefferson, Pax Christi, Code Pink and other local groups joined in the Melville rally. Four people were arrested for crossing a police line at the North Carolina protest. What is supposed to be a bank of the people is arguably in name only—and a misnomer at that, according to protestors who argue the bank only represents the 1 percent.

“It’s important that banks and other corporations don’t take all the loophole advantages to not pay taxes,” Abby Kenigsberg, of Glen Cove, an adjunct media professor at C.W. Post, said. “Loopholes allow corporations to pay taxes offshore. They should profit and put back into America.”

Luciano Sabatini, of Massapequa, an education consultant, hopes the campaign will “send the message that regular middle class people want to see them (BOA) do more to help people in foreclosure and to renegotiate mortgages.”

“I’m also concerned about my three kids who are graduating college and how they can afford a home,” she added. “That’s part of why I’m here. I was able to buy a home in my 20s and start a career; they’re going to have more difficulty.”

Melville resident MaryJane Hodge is a social worker with clients throughout Long Island who was inspired to join the rally after seeing first-hand the effects of the Great Recession, which has been widely attributed to unchecked corruption on Wall Street.

“It means for many, homelessness,” Hodge said. “It means taking a loan from a loan shark to buy a trailer, or moving in with relatives. They are already going (to social workers) for mental and emotional issues. This just adds to the stress of their life.”

Bank of America staffers at the Melville branch declined to comment on the rally outside.

“In essence, Bank of America is sending babies, children and parents to become homeless,” Dennis Glassberg of Dix Hills said. “We’re here to change that policy.”

He also criticized Newsday coverage of the occupy movement as “unbalanced.” He added: “Our members are planning to do a legal occupy movement against Newsday in the near future.”