Protests peaceful at Bank of America shareholder meeting

About a dozen protesters chanted slogans outside the Bank of America shareholder meeting Wednesday, under the watchful gaze of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police, private security and members of the media who far outnumbered them.

They said they were opposed to foreclosures and funding Bank of America provides to coal power plants and other polluting enterprises. The protesters took on the persona of bankers, speaking “in character” and chanting satirically in support of profits and foreclosures.

“We make a lot more money than them, and that makes us better,” said protest organizer Justin Miller, talking about ordinary Americans. He was speaking as a “banker.” The group danced and held signs such as “Capitalism Rock$” and “Profit over People.”

The protesters danced and yelled sarcastic “thank yous” at shareholders who exited the meeting, saying they were grateful for things such as water pollution.

“Your planet gets sicker, our pockets get thicker!” the group yelled, again in character as bankers.

Wednesday was a far cry from the 2012 Bank of America shareholder meeting protest, when 500 or so demonstrators marched through uptown and held a raucous, hours-long rally that closed uptown streets and resulted in several arrests.

In contrast, no streets were shut down this year. Police, protesters and suit-wearing private security guards sporting earpieces mingled calmly. At noon, with no disruptions occurring, the private security guards took an order of Fuel Pizza.

Charlotte City Manager Ron Carlee had previously declared the protest an “extraordinary event,” giving the police expanded enforcement powers such as the ability to search bags. Officers did not appear to use any of those powers Wednesday.

The satirical tone of the event was evidently lost on some of the spectators. Looking at a sign that said “Greed is Good,” a woman turned to her companion.

“What the hell is good about being greedy?” she asked before walking away.