Don't Worry, It's Still OK To Close Your Bank Account
actual Citi ad, released May 2001
Not sure if you heard but some more shit went down this weekend and some "former" Citigroup customers got in the middle of it. If you only watch part of the video, you see some scary ass plain clothes guy grabbing a chick who seems a little worked up about closing her account.
I hate the banks as much if not more than the next guy. And I just had to close my BB&T account a few weeks back; trust me, I was worked up at the time. But I paid her however much they overdrafted me at the point I stopped using their services (maintenance fees... bad me for having a job and not being able to get down to the bank before 4 PM when they close to close my account in person) and was on my way. I asked her if she wanted the debit card back, she said no, I could throw it out. Throw it out? An unexpired debit card? I shredded it and moved on with my life. All in all, the transaction worked out fine.
But last weekend a couple Occupy Wall Street protesters decided to head down to Citigroup and close their accounts. What they did from the time they entered the bank to the time they were dragged out of it in ziptie cuffs is beyond me. As far as I can assume, they must have been pulling some shit inside. See above: the BB&T lady really didn't care that I was closing my account. And here I thought I had a more frightening reputation.
Here's the video:
Of course, the sheep immediately began blurting out "THE EVIL BANKSTERS ARREST YOU FOR CLOSING YOUR ACCOUNT!!"... right. Like Citi has nothing better to do. They're busy creatively interpreting accounting rules, they don't give a shit about your $15 checking account.
As a private business (government intervention aside for the purposes of this argument, as we technically allow Citigroup to pretend like it is a real business and not a ward of our dysfunctional state), Citigroup reserves the right to refuse service, especially to people carrying signs and screaming at iPhone video cameras.
Here's the Citibank statement:
Citibank Public Affairs issued the following statement regarding today's incident: "A large amount of protesters entered our branch at 555 La Guardia Place around 2:00 PM today. They were very disruptive and refused to leave after being repeatedly asked, causing our staff to call 911. The Police asked the branch staff to close the branch until the protesters could be removed. Only one person asked to close an account and was accommodated."
To be clear: no one was arrested for closing an account; we didn't lock people in our branch - the police decided to close the branch; and we didn't ask for anyone to be arrested - that is a police decision.
The truth probably lies somewhere in between. The protesters were probably being mildly disruptive or maybe just a little annoying and Citi has a few friends at the NYPD (being a business in the district those officers "protect"). Still, the First Amendment doesn't apply on someone else's property if they don't want you to be there. Sorry.
In reality, the NYPD had to use NY taxpayer money to pay these cops to protect the lowly Citibank tellers making barely enough to afford living on the fringes of the city from a group of people angry at the wrong target.
It isn't brutality or injustice if you yourself bait the participants into behaving that way. It's just how the world works.