Bank dissatisfaction reverberates on Vashon
By NATALIE JOHNSON
Vashon-Maury Island Beachcomber Reporter
November 29, 2011 · 10:23 AM
While some Islanders are showing their dissatisfaction with large banks by transferring their accounts to Vashon’s credit union, at least one Islander expressed his view by vandalizing three local banks.
On Monday, Nov. 7, the weekday following Friday, Nov. 5 — dubbed Bank Transfer Day by a national movement — a young man put super glue in the front door locks of Vashon’s three banks — Bank of America, Chase and U.S. Bank.
According to a police re-port, the 26-year-old ended the spree at U.S. Bank, where he then entered the building and asked bank employees to call 911. He told them he would not leave until he was arrested.
When sheriffs deputies arrived, the man, who later told police he was homeless, was waiting in a chair with a smile on his face, according to the report. He was booked into a King County Jail on three counts of malicious mischief.
Bill Moyer, a political activist who heads the Backbone Campaign, said the young man called him after the incident. The man told Moyer that he had vandalized the banks to make a statement and wanted to know what he thought.
Moyer, who had heard of other recent bank vandalism as well, said he told the man his move was stupid and ill-advised.
“The most important thing when you’re trying to build a movement is to do things that increase audience sympathy and understanding of your point of view,” he said. “Vandalism, just like violence, does not tend to do that in this country.”
Meanwhile, Vashon’s branch of the Puget Sound Cooperative Credit Union (PSCCU), which opened in March, continues to see a steady stream of new members, said branch manager Patte Wagner
Wagner said she had all her staff work on Nov. 5 in anticipation of Bank Transfer Day.
She said they opened 14 new memberships that day, a record for a Saturday when the branch is only open four hours. Some members opened additional accounts that day, completing their transfers from banks.
“Our lobby was full,” she said. “We were not able to process everyone that day.”
On their next business day, Nov. 8, Wagner said they opened 19 new memberships, some of them for people who had come in on Saturday.
However, Wagner added, she didn’t think Bank Transfer day was huge on Vashon. Islanders continue to transfer their money, she said; it’s not uncommon for the branch to see 10 new members in a day.
Wagner said she saw a particular uptick in new accounts after Bank of America announced in late September that it was considering adding a $5 monthly debit fee.
“That was the last straw for a lot of people. ... Every time a bank announces a different fee, we get a wave of people,” she said.
Moyer, who helped bring the credit union to Vashon and serves on PSCCU’s board, said he is pleased Islanders continue to em-brace the credit union.
“On Vashon, Bank Transfer Day is every day,” he said.
Though managers at all three local branches were unable to comment on the movement opposing big banks or the recent vandalism, at least one bank, Chase, had increased security for a time after the incident.
Islander Jenni Wilke, who has a business account at Chase, said she was shocked when earlier this month she saw a security guard at the bank. She said she though it was an overreaction.
Darcy Donahoe-Wilmot, a spokesperson for Chase, would neither confirm nor deny the increased security but said, “Security has been increased at various branches based on the Occupy protest going on.”
Wilke was also sympathetic to Vashon’s Chase branch, though, saying she understands the Island’s bank workers have to comply with corporate policies.
“I feel like the higher-ups need to adjust and adapt and recognize some of these banks are trying to make it in these little communities,” she said.
Contact Vashon-Maury Island Beachcomber Reporter Natalie Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 206-463-9195.