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The Jehoshua Novels


Closing Your Account At Citibank Is Now An Arrestable Offense

About 90 seconds into the video you’ll see a woman in a suit with her Citibank checkbook being arrested. The more action’s like this–and others detailed in this post–is the kind of civil disobedience that is necessary. It is also what the elite 1% fear most.

As I wrote the other day about guerrilla tactics and civil disobedience, this is one essential part of it. There were some folks said a debt jubilee and a general debt strike were very serious actions to consider in light of the economic damage they would cause. These are very valid criticisms. However, when videos are made of people being arrested the impression it creates, the huge perception of the little guy and gal getting hosed is what matters most. Again, it is like guerrilla warfare: the overall impression and bad PR is worth so much more than than we think. When regular people start seeing this behavior they realize something is very wrong, that the protests aren’t just about hippies and bongos and pot smoking. They instinctively sense the economic injustice they have suffered and their sympathies shift to the protests.

This stuff is like death by a thousand little pin pricks to the banks, especially when they have to put out very defensive press releases like this.

In short: we don’t have to cause economic harm, yet, but just PR harm. This video is proof and is another (small) solid victory.

Addendum: It also strikes me that one demand banking customers and protesters alike can make is the portability of accounts easier, much like our cell phones numbers are mandated by law to be easily portable:

From the NYTimes:

”œThe technology locks you in and they’re keenly aware of it,” said Robert Smith, who was chief executive of Security Pacific when it was bought by Bank of America in 1992. ”œIt’s very hard for consumers to just ditch that.”

For years, banks have openly sought to attach as many loans and services as they can to a customer, like credit cards, mortgages and mobile phone banking.

What they haven’t mentioned are marketing studies like the one commissioned by Fiserv, which develops online bill paying systems, showing that using the Internet to pay bills, do automatic deductions and send electronic checks reduced customer turnover for banks by up to 95 percent in some cases.

This is something that will make it extremely difficult for mom and pop to move their money and is something that will need addressing.

Update: A bill has already been proposed for just this sort of thing.

24 comments to Closing Your Account At Citibank Is Now An Arrestable Offense

  • Lex

    If i had ever kept money in a big bank, then i’d be all over joining in. But alas, i was into small banks before they were cool. I’d tell you what banks i use, but you’ve never heard of them.

    /financial hipster

    You’re right, SPK, this is a guerrilla tactic in so much as it’s offensive on a small scale and very difficult to defend against shy of retaliation with disproportionate force. And it does scare the elite, because it’s attacking with the capital they consider theirs.

    I’ve never thought of the service bundling as a way to trap consumers; i’ve just always personally avoided it on gut reaction alone (well, that and when my small bank tried to sign me up for internet banking and told me that i’d choose a five digit password with no special characters … i laughed right at the banking lady and told her that i wouldn’t use a password like that for blog registration).

    First they sell you on the cashless society, and then they trap you in the complexities of that society for their own benefit.

  • JustPlainDave

    …but not as well carried out as it should have been.

    1) They should have had the identification of everyone that went in on the action before they went in.

    2) Dress them all up in suits and business casual. The more they look like responsible customers, the better.

    3) Put together an imagery collection plan. The whole point of this is to collect imagery that paints the bank and the NYPD in a bad light. Feed them enough line to do something stupid and be ready to capitalize on it when they do.

    4) Ideally you want someone with enough experience to be able to tell the audience what is going on looking through the imagery before it’s cut and edited so that the whole story comes out. For instance, I’d lay dollars to donuts that buddy with the mid-range suit and ID card on a lanyard bumbling about on the outer perimeter is bank security. Why’s he calling the shots for the NYPD?

    Bottom line, you want as much knowledge about the scenario as possible, so you can speak authoritatively and convincingly about how the opposition is over-reacting. Among the things I would love to know and that should be knowable and explained to the audience – was the young woman in the pantsuit one of the protesters or someone they dimwittedly scooped up? If the latter, message the hell out of that, if the former it doesn’t hurt any – particularly given that she was clearly not a threat to civil order yet still got dragged back in. If you know the scenario cold, you can get the truth out there fast and effectively.

    I think there’s a huge amount of messaging potential here – Citibank doesn’t see you as a customer, they see you as a resource – why else do they refuse to let people (ideally people who look like they came from Peoria) close out their accounts? This is much more than ooooh police doing unattractive looking things – this is who’s calling the shots with the apparatus of the state at a very low level, anyway?

    In combat one should be very suspicious of painless moral choices. When you are confronted with a seemingly painless moral choice, the odds are that you haven’t looked deeply enough.” ~ Karl Marlantes

  • Sean Paul Kelley

    curve here and I think they are making a good start. But there is learning that still needs to be done.

    Bad decisions make good stories.

  • Don

    I stay away from stuff like this.

    Because I would kill a motherfucker for less. And then feel really bad about it afterward.

    I did inhale.

  • JustPlainDave

    …operational experience and get them to teach. I think they’re going to have to bite the bullet and realize that they need some centralization and direction. They also need to find some operational leaders who fully realize what it is that they’re doing – for the folks getting arrested this has real, potentially life-long ramifications (whether they currently realize it or not) and their sacrifice needs to be as well-used as possible.

    But, yeah, good start. There’s potential. Glad things aren’t anywhere near the need for that up here, though…

    In combat one should be very suspicious of painless moral choices. When you are confronted with a seemingly painless moral choice, the odds are that you haven’t looked deeply enough.” ~ Karl Marlantes

  • Zman1527

    That is how they can get away with adding a $5 debit card fee. Now that is not a bad fee for the convenience but still they can do it with impunity knowing the hassle factor of moving accounts.

  • steeleweed

    but I’m a heathen.

    “When you live on cash, you understand the limits of the world around which you navigate each day.
    Credit leads into a desert with invisible boundaries.”
    - Anton Chekhov

  • Don

    pushed me to the breaking point.

    Despicable.

    I did inhale.

  • Sean Paul Kelley

    these videos. There is something clearly going on between the White shirt and the guy or gal that gets decked by the White shirt in the video. There is some very necessary context missing.

    That being said, I have to question whether it is ever, ever appropriate for a police officer to haul off and punch someone in the face like this? I can conceive of maybe, and I stress maybe, one or two situations that would cal for this kind of behavior but only in self-defense of the officer in question. In light of what I am seeing here the officer was in no way in danger–how many other cops are in the video? And all the protesters are peaceful.

    I just cannot see how this is legit behavior on the part of the white shirt. He may have been verbally provoked, or aggravated, but that does not excuse punching a hippie. Period.

    Bad decisions make good stories.

  • Lesly

    What they haven’t mentioned are marketing studies like the one commissioned by Fiserv, which develops online bill paying systems, showing that using the Internet to pay bills, do automatic deductions and send electronic checks reduced customer turnover for banks by up to 95 percent in some cases.

    Because this is exactly why I have repeatedly refused to set up my accounts for automatic bill pay. I know the convenience of never having to budget for the month (assuming your income doesn’t change + there are no emergencies/new debts) would compromise my middle finger. Just goes to show being a control freak is not all bad.

  • Awake

    … like a “Fu@% You” or a spit on the part of the protester.

    Senior police officers are accustomed to having all the power, and getting away with it so they will not respond professionally to a personal affront. Well trained junior officers will just shrug it away and act professionally, but not some fat desk jockey “officer” like the one involved in this case.

    If Bloomberg wants to start making a difference and calming things, he will charge every officer that does stuff like this with “abuse of power” and kick them off the force and make it well known within the ranks.

  • Escher Sketch

    I’ll start the countdown to them suddenly being accused of rape, to the discovery of child porn on their laptops, to drugs being found in their packs. Or to their permission to travel being effectively revoked afterwards.

    A leaderless occupation may be much less efficient, but it must be noted that it hasn’t been shut down yet. It’s got weaknesses, but it instantly neutralizes some of the oppo’s traditional chess moves. “Go ahead, arrest twenty or seventy or four hundred – if you think it’ll make a difference.” I’m watching with interest.


    “The best-informed man is not necessarily the wisest. Indeed there is a danger that precisely in the multiplicity of his knowledge he will lose sight of what is essential.”

    - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

  • adrena

    I don’t do automatic billing either. But I’m sure that eventually the banks will find a way to force you to. Already the banks and other businesses use devious ways to entice customers. For example, you can’t sign up for a special discount unless you agree to automatice billing. I never bite and never will.


    Sexual inequality is “The Mother of all Inequalities”.
    Liberate female sexuality and you will eliminate racism, homophobia, financial greed, and violence.

  • adrena

    Equal Billing Plans are another no no. It’s all about taking your control away. I did it for a while but at the end of the year, the companies always owed me money. So I put a stop to it. I love the 8 months period of very low heating bills and am fully prepared for the extra expenses during the winter months.


    Sexual inequality is “The Mother of all Inequalities”.
    Liberate female sexuality and you will eliminate racism, homophobia, financial greed, and violence.

  • JustPlainDave

    http://gothamist.com/2011/10/15/nypd_alleges_protester_attempted_to.php

    In combat one should be very suspicious of painless moral choices. When you are confronted with a seemingly painless moral choice, the odds are that you haven’t looked deeply enough.” ~ Karl Marlantes

  • JustPlainDave

    …variety of mundane other civil order charges that New York officers have at their disposal? I doubt it. That city in particular is a playground for coppers wanting to make creative use of code.

    In combat one should be very suspicious of painless moral choices. When you are confronted with a seemingly painless moral choice, the odds are that you haven’t looked deeply enough.” ~ Karl Marlantes

  • Escher Sketch

    a simple arrest won’t do it for leaders. Leaders would have to be made unsympathetic.


    “The best-informed man is not necessarily the wisest. Indeed there is a danger that precisely in the multiplicity of his knowledge he will lose sight of what is essential.”

    - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

  • Sean Paul Kelley

    it adds some more context. Thanks. I’m not sure where I come down on this one. They way he burst into the screen from the left, when everyone else was pretty orderly gives me the sense that he did provoke the White Shirt in some way–nothing that would justify being punched in the face, however. But still, it does add context.

    Bad decisions make good stories.

  • JustPlainDave

    …or potential charismatic leadership where anything like that would be required.

    In combat one should be very suspicious of painless moral choices. When you are confronted with a seemingly painless moral choice, the odds are that you haven’t looked deeply enough.” ~ Karl Marlantes

  • JustPlainDave

    …blow to the head is a particularly textbook use of force response, even if Rivera-Petri did take a poke at him. My guess is that this is more due to “Inspector less familiar with the concept that the public might take a run at him than he was 15 years ago when he wore a blue shirt” than anything.

    The Inspector sure thought he was justified though – soon as he downs him and turns back from the crowd, he’s reaching round back for his cuffs. May be the first time they’ve been used in decades…which, cynically, may also explain something.

    In combat one should be very suspicious of painless moral choices. When you are confronted with a seemingly painless moral choice, the odds are that you haven’t looked deeply enough.” ~ Karl Marlantes

  • JustPlainDave

    …have been charged with criminal trespass, which suggests to me that the bank’s story is that they wouldn’t leave the premises when asked to do so. All the more reason for a good imagery collection plan.

    In combat one should be very suspicious of painless moral choices. When you are confronted with a seemingly painless moral choice, the odds are that you haven’t looked deeply enough.” ~ Karl Marlantes

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