DIY Tips for Shutting Down a Bank

Big banks brought about the 2007 financial crisis through risky lending, and they are notorious for exporting wealth from local communities. The hacks in congress claim these banks are “too big to fail,” so rather than regulate or outlaw them, the politicians continue to use public money to bail out these private institutions–rather than directing funds towards education, transport, healthcare and other desperately needed community services.

No one else is going to do it for us, so perhaps it is time to take bank regulation into our own hands & shut down the corporate banks ourselves.

In 2012, a group of students & teachers at the University of California at Davis (UC Davis) used their bodies as a human chain, blocking the entrances to a corporate bank on their campus. After 2 straight months, the bank branch shut down and left the university forever. Maybe this tactic is most effective on universities and other campuses (i.e. hospitals), or maybe it can be transplanted into any community. We can only find out through trial and error.

If you are out of work due to the financial crisis the banks created, why not dedicate 15 hours a week to blockading a corporate bank in your neighborhood? It’s a great way to meet people, and it could have lasting positive effects on your community and quality of life.

Some tips:

- Coordinate. The Davis Blockaders are rumored to have used an online spreadsheet to sign up for 3-hour shifts to make sure multiple people were always covering the entrances during banking hours. (For funsies: you can treat the blockade like a job & wear a suit!)

- Personal Stories. If you have a personal story about how big banks screwed you or your loved ones over, don’t hesitate to share it with the customers you turn away.

- Recruit Lots of Local People from Diverse Backgrounds. It can also help to have some local celebrities & upstanding community members as spokespersons.

- Educate. Some people are still plugged in to the corporate media and don’t understand why big banks are bad. Be ready to explain the basics to these n00bs, or have some fliers to give them.

- Bring a book. Some relevant titles: DEBT: the first 5000 years by David Greaber and Too Big to Fail by Andrew Ross Sorkin.

- Document Any Abuses. If bank employees, customers, or cops attempt to break the law by assaulting anyone in the blockade, film them!

- Avoid breaking the law. Don’t give the police an excuse to crash your blockade. If a window gets smashed or a pedestrian gets punched, it’s pretty much over. If someone wants to do drugs or booze up, they need to go someplace else. A bank blockade is a specific type of tactic & needs to stay focused on its goal. That said, if a random riot wanders by and saves you some time by torching the bank, what can you say?

- Get Legal Support. Be in touch with local law firms that specialize in Civil Disobedience. Twelve of the Davis Blockaders were charged with misdemeanors, but several rockstar lawyers showed up to defend them in court. With help from the legal community, the “Davis Dozen” each received a mere 60 hours of community service & clean records.

- Send us your stories of successful blockades! We may run them in the Slingshot newspaper. All submissions to slingshot@tao.ca.

Some resources:

strikedebt.org – Join the global debt strike! Stop making payments & reclaim the future!

publicbankinginstitute.org – Make all banks into publicly-owned institutions and end this bullshit once & for all!