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Hearing about an October 11 demonstration at the Bank of America branch on University Avenue at 31st Street, I dropped by. Not connected with the Occupy San Diego movement, this protest was connected to the upcoming “Bank Transfer Day."

Standing on the sidewalk, Jeff O. and Stephen D. held up signs while O. engaged customers as they came by. O. said he had been there four days and that he planned to remain. An armed security guard stood near the ATMs.

“I'm just encouraging folks to close their account with BofA and move their money to a nonprofit credit union,” O. said. “San Diego is full of great credit unions.”

O., who is unemployed, said he was giving away leaflets for California Coast Credit Union when people asked him what credit union to go to. He said if the person opens and keeps an account, he later gets a referral fee of $25; but O. said that's not his motivation behind the protest.

After awhile, a man in a suit approached O. and started peppering him with questions. He asked what credit union O. would recommend and O. said "California Coast." The man then said O. was “running a business” there by recommending a credit union. O. denied running a business.

The man identified himself as Darrell Freeman, corporate security for the bank. He refused to give me his business card when I asked for it. He told O. that he could, “with one phone call,” get O.'s credit union account canceled at California Coast. He threatened to make the call if O. kept up the demonstration.

After I completed this story, O. emailed me with some more info:

"[The man who claimed to be Freeman] came back demanding my ID again. I asked him for a business card and he continued to refuse. I offered to trade mine for his and he kept going back to his demand to see my ID while standing on a public sidewalk. I held my ground but his threats still had me spooked. So I called my Credit Union to ask if he really could close my account. They laughed out loud and basically said, 'full steam ahead!'"

Pictured: Stephen D. (left) and Jeff O. and hold up signs outside the Bank of America in North Park

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Comments

Jeff_O Oct. 13, 2011 @ 9:19 a.m.

FYI- The sign that Stephen is holding reads:

$45,000,000,000.00 -TAXPAYER BAILOUT $300,000,000.00 -PAID IN FINES FOR FRAUD

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SurfPuppy619 Oct. 13, 2011 @ 11:22 a.m.

You should have just igrnoed him, not said a word. Public sidewalk is public property and you are free to engage in all the free speech you want to. Next time, pull out a video cell phone and just start recording him, including is face. Even if you do not have a video cell phone fake it and pretend the phone you do have is a video, he won't know. That will 100% clear the situation up.

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Jeff_O Oct. 13, 2011 @ 12:51 p.m.

Next time is now! My goal is to be out there every day. Come join me!

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dwbat Oct. 13, 2011 @ 1:30 p.m.

I was shocked when the security person made that threat, with a witness (me) standing right next to him. Bank of America needs to educate its security people about a document called the 1st Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.

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Jeff_O Oct. 17, 2011 @ 3:08 p.m.

The Empire Strikes Back! The North Park BofA branch called the cops on me the day after the incident mentioned above- http://youtu.be/WiGCudtdSqw

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dwbat Oct. 17, 2011 @ 6:01 p.m.

Once again, Bank of America was way out of line. And the SDPD acted properly by backing up the rights of the protestors on the sidewalk. If BofA officials want to see who the bad guys really are, they need only look at a mirror.

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ireadreader Oct. 18, 2011 @ 12:20 a.m.

Your co-optation of this protest is rather disheartening. Banks make good money from fees allowing people access to their funds. It sucks and people should look into alternatives.. credit unions, online services, faux-lightswitch safe, etc. But because you are handing out referrals to a specific business, that you profit from, you are nothing more than a cheap marketer. It doesn't sound like you are trying to hide the fact that you profit, but I'd say drop it altogether if you want to keep doing this "protest". If some jerk was outside my credit union telling me to join a bank, or even if some jerk was outside my credit union suggesting I join her credit union, I would politely step on his big toe. No one likes a mocketer.

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Jeff_O Oct. 21, 2011 @ 7:24 a.m.

ireadread- Too bad we can't all be as ideologically pure as you. Have fun camping in the plaza- I will keep chipping away at Goliath, you know- actually getting something done.

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dwbat Nov. 1, 2011 @ 11:56 a.m.

Such protests across the country covered by the media, along with a petition signed by 300,000+ at change.org, helped bring about change at BofA! They have decided to drop all debit card fees.

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Founder Nov. 12, 2011 @ 7:53 a.m.

Finally a "small" step in the right direction by BofA...

Expect to see many more protests (hopefully peaceful) as folks across the country wake up to the fact that the middle class is becoming extinct!

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dwbat Sept. 5, 2012 @ 12:48 p.m.

And customers need to continue switching from the Goliath banks to credit unions and small community banks in their hood. I've had a credit union account for many years, and am very satisfied with their service.

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SurfPuppy619 Sept. 5, 2012 @ 2:47 p.m.

if they are TBTF then they are too big to exist.

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