Occupy L.A. protesters march to mark so-called Bank Transfer Day
Hundreds of protesters vented their frustration with Wall Street Saturday in a march through downtown L.A.'s financial district that at one point erupted into a pushing and shouting match with a counter-protester.
It was part of Bank Transfer Day, a national effort to get people to move their money from large corporate banks into smaller banks or credit unions. The march was organized by a coalition of labor unions and community organizations fighting foreclosures and also drew a sizable contingent of protesters from nearby Occupy L.A.
The event started just before noon at California Plaza, where old protest songs blasted from speakers and several demonstrators told the crowd about why they had withdrawn their money.
Things turned tense when Mario Brito, an organizer with Occupy L.A., took to the microphone and was interrupted by a counter-protester who grabbed the microphone and yelled, "Mario, are you still a member of the Communist Party?"
Pushing and shouting ensued as the man filmed the whole thing with an iPhone.
After a few minutes, things cooled and the march began.
As the crowd traveled north up Grand Avenue, they chanted slogans such as, "Banks got bailed out, we got sold out."
Vivian Sepulveda, 27, who works for Good Jobs L.A., the coalition that organized the event, was one of them. She said she pulled her money out of Bank of America because she feels the bank contributed to the foreclosure crisis by not helping struggling homeowners in her South L.A. neighborhood with loan modifications.
"If you walk around South Central, there's a lot of empty houses, a lot of houses boarded up," she said.
Walking out of Bank of America with 10 others who had also withdrawn their money felt good, she said.
"It was really exciting and liberating knowing that I had no business with them anymore."
-- Kate Linthicum
Photo: A counter-protester uses his phone to record the scene at an Occupy L.A. march marking Bank Transfer Day. Credit: Kate Linthicum / Los Angeles Times