A series of videos has emerged on internet showing images of bank customers staging protests and mass account closures in different cities across the U.S., New York; Santa Cruz, California and St Louis, Missouri.
Other footage shows dozens of Citibank and Bank of America customers denied requests to close their accounts, some even being arrested after alleged clashes with branch managers.
In a video footage obtained by Gawker.com earlier this month, dozens of people corralled inside of a Citibank branch in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village, some signaling inside they are facing arrest.
The Gawker.com website reports that 24 people were arrested on charges of criminal trespassing in Citibank branch in Manhattan.
According to a Citibank official statement the group was “very disruptive and refused to leave after being repeatedly asked”.
A Citibank spokesman said one person asked to close an account and was accommodated and acknowledged that the branch was closed “until the protesters could be removed”.
The footage presented by Gawker.com follows another video uploaded to YouTube on October 8, which shows three Occupy Santa Cruz protesters attempting to close their accounts at a local Bank of America branch.
The YouTube video shows two women walking into the Bank of America branch and sitting down, one of them with a large placard.
A branch manager asks the women to leave and threatens to call police, claiming “you cannot be a protester and a customer at the same time”.
The two women leave the bank and say to return without a sign the following day to close their accounts.
The video footages emerge weeks after both Citibank and Bank of America unveiled plans to hike fees for its services.
At the beginning of October, Citibank announced changes to its mid-tier checking accounts, which offer the potential for earning interest and a few other perks.
Starting in December, Citibank will charge $20 a month on these accounts, unless the customer has combined balances of $15,000 or more in checking, savings and investment accounts or loan balances.
The Citibank fee was previously waived for combined balances of $6,000 for that level of account, which offers perks such as interest-bearing checking.
Citibank customers also pay $2 fees for using non-Citi ATMs if they don’t meet the balance requirement. In September, Citibank said it will no longer give rewards points for debit card transactions.
The new situation stemmed, in part, from changes in federal regulations that cut roughly in half the amount banks could charge retailers for processing purchases made on debit cards, a rule that’s cutting sharply into bank revenue.
Citi’s changes came just a few days after Bank of America Corp said it would be charging $5 per month for using debit cards starting 2012. Other U.S. banks have also been testing such fees.
Meanwhile, an offshoot Occupy Wall Street movement called Bank Transfer Day appears to be gaining momentum.
A statement on the Occupy movement’s Facebook page encourages supporters to take a stand against big banks by removing their funds on November 5th.
“Together we can ensure that these banking institutions will always remember the 5th of November!!
“If the 99% removes our funds from the major banking institutions on or by this date, we will send a clear message and give the 1% a taste of the fear that we experience every day when we aren’t able to pay for our rent, food, medication, utilities, student loans, etc.”