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Arrests of Citibank account holders. What is wrong with this picture?

watch?v=fdeuuzXS_sY

The Youtube video seems pretty clear that some people went to a Citibank (Citi) branch in New York to close their accounts.  Occupy Wall Street claims there were 22 arrests.  However, this press release from Citi claims there were no arrests for closing an account.*  citibank-statement-regarding-protester-arrests.shtml

The same also claims only one person closed their account.  Was that the woman who was outside the bank then physically assaulted and pushed back into the bank on the video?  It does not appear to me that she was doing anything disruptive and obviously had exited the bank.  If that woman was arrested, Citi’s notice appears to be untrue.  Citi also claims the people inside “protesters” were disruptive.  Hmmm…they don’t look disruptive.  They look bewildered and trapped.  Citi claims the police told them to close the bank until the protesters could be “removed.”  NYPD—is that true?   Reports say bank employees blocked doorways so the protesters could not exit.  If so, seems like false imprisonment.

A couple observations.

First, anyone should be able to close their bank account.  The bank account holder should follow the rules and not create a disturbance.  A bank is not a public space.  Besides, banks are subject to robberies.  Orderly conduct is required.  Banking employees should not be overwhelmed or fear for their safety.  If protesters want to withdraw their money, do so with respect for the workers, the institution and the law.  Wait outside and don’t interfere with other banking customers access to the bank.  Don’t scream at the police who quite frankly also looked bewildered.

Second, Citibank must accommodate the requests of anyone who wishes to withdraw their money.  Don’t create a public relations nightmare for yourself and the NYPD by over dramatizing the situation.  The number actually arrested as the result of the debacle varies depending on the news source.  Here are a few for the Citi Board of Directors to consider.  Since the country including Palm Beach are watching, we suggest Citi pay attention.

occupy-wall-street-run-on-citibank-ends-in-arrests  occupywallst.org  80-plus-arrested-in-nyc-occupy-wall-street-1915617.html

Citi should issue an apology immediately for calling 911 when this could have been handled by a highly skilled customer relations person.  All banks must hire personnel to work with customers including protesters.  If they want to close their accounts, set up a person who can handle these transactions in a professional manner because more bank account closures are on the horizon.  The reputation of every bank, already tarnished is at risk.  Don’t freak out by a handful of noisy people who may be your neighbors child or someone who sat next to you at Starbucks or held a door for you at Macy’s.  Don’t get people arrested needlessly. 

Third, it is time for everyone to realize we are one nation.  The protesters have a right to exercise their rights.  The police must keep the peace.  Protesters don’t forget the police may seem like adversaries but they also are your protectors.  With the protests, it must be an arduous situation for the NYPD that is ripe for terrorists to sneak an attack on the city.  Slightly a little over a month of the 10 year 9/11 anniversary.  How quickly we forget.

Lastly, now that the protesters have the CEO of Citi willing to meet with them, they made serious progress and should not miss the opportunity.   If there isn’t anyone associated with the protesters who wants to meet with Vikram S. Pandit, CEO of Citi, our organization will be delighted to do so on behalf of the citizens.  Contact us.

Citibank Statement Regarding Protester Arrests

October 15, 2011 6:12 PM By Citibank Public Affairs

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.

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