Protesters Occupy Bank of America in Morristown

Nearly two dozen demonstrators camped out in front of the South Street branch for a couple hours on Wednesday.

It wasn't a force the size of some of those crowds in New York City. But, then again, the group of 20 or so demonstrators weren't occupying Wall Street on Wednesday but, rather, .

The demonstration, organized by members of the small Occupy Morristown group and Move-On.org, was part of .

"We want to educate, we don't want to cause trouble," said Lew Schwartz, organizer of the Morristown event outside Bank of America's South Street location. 

That education, according to organizers, includes letting people know about what they call "socially and environmentally destructive politices of national Bank of America that include foreclosures, dirty coal financing, federal income tax exclusion and political lobbying."

The nearly two-dozen demonstrators, many of them older, some retired, and at least one member in his 20s, waved American flags and homemade billboards with slogans like, "I am 99%" and "Bank of Audacity."

One of the protestors, Tom Bias of Sparta, has received a letter of intent to foreclose on the house he has lived in for almost 34 years. He said he has offered to speak with Bank of America on multiple occasions, in an attempt to discuss a principal reduction on his mortgage. With that going nowhere, he has since gotten a lawyer.

"I was laid off from the the printing industry in November 2010, after 40 freaking years," Bias, 62, said. "I am not looking for free housing, but the bank has to work with me."

Joan Belz, of Morristown, said, "banks operate under the rules Congress makes. They're elected under the industry of Big Pharma, Big Finance and Big Oil.

"Nothing's going to change if the banks are regulated by those they support," she said. "What's needed is campaign finance reform."

The Rev. Allen Wells, a "community minister affiliated with Morristown Unitarian Fellowship," was scheduled to meet with the South Street branch manager during the demonstration, but said they would meet "only to discuss a personal account.

"I don't have a personal account with Bank of America," he said. "They're not inclined to speak."

Meanwhile, inside the branch office, manager Rasidah Billups said the meeting had been scheduled by protest organizers online, then echoed Wells' statement that only personal accounts could be discussed at such a meeting. Billups was then handed a contact information sheet by another employee, and said any additional press inquiries would have to be done through the media relations team.

Outside, most drivers passing the protest didn't pay any mind. Some, however, honked their horns, gave a thumbs up, or both. One cherub-faced boy driving a Ford Explorer shouted, "get a job."

"Most of them have been very supportive," said Thea Lintern, of Morristown.

Given the small number of people participating, though, does something like Wednesday's demonstration outside the South Street branch make much of a difference? Several in attendance thought so.

"It keeps it visible, it keeps it under their nose," said Karen VanBlarcum, of High Bridge.

"This is the definition of grassroots, isn't it," said Joanna Winquist, of Springfield. "It's about starting small and working up."

They took yer job May 10, 2012 at 01:27 AM
Waaaaaah-I want a free house, an over paid do nothing job, or better yet handouts, also no one should profit in business and crack should be legal and I want my own space ship. Seriously -shut up and go to work. If the "freakin" bank is taking your house maybe you should have paid off your mortgage instead of cashing out for a bass boat, above ground pool, conversion van, trip To sandals, big screen tv and all other the other crap that the lower middle class thinks they are entiltled to because theyre special.
Brosnan May 10, 2012 at 05:22 AM
Do you know these people personally? No of course not. It's pretty obvious that you have no idea what you're writing about. If you did ANY research about these cases you wouldn't be showing off your willful ignorance. Instead you've exhibited total elitist arrogance by bloviating out of your empty scull. What on God's earth could possibly make you so "special"? Unless of course you were one of those kids that rode the "little bus" to school. I pity you and your ilk.
Prentiss Gray May 10, 2012 at 12:12 PM
Almost 50,000 foreclosures in NJ since 2009, that's a lot of people who "want their own spaceship" sure you don't want to rethink that rant?
Gordon Ashworth May 10, 2012 at 12:20 PM
The photos show fewer people than actually attended. The photographer knows this. This is a grass roots movement that is educating those who don't feel the pain yet, or who don't know what the BOA has done and is doing. Most of those who attended had already worked a lifetime. They/we don't need to work more, although many of us do.
Josh May 10, 2012 at 01:22 PM
"has received a letter of intent to foreclose on the house he has lived in for almost 34 years" - Doesn't something sound wrong, Aren't most mortgages at the most 30 years?
Cara DePalma May 10, 2012 at 01:39 PM
Wow, why so hateful against people who are utilizing their constitutional right to assembly? And you obviously meed to brush up on your reading skills as the gentleman from Sparta said he DIDN'T want a free house, just for the bank to work with him. Keep spewing hate; karma will catch up with you.
Cara DePalma May 10, 2012 at 01:40 PM
Sure, but people refinance to help pay for home improvements, kids' college expenses or just to save money on interest. There are also 50 year mortgages, but used very infrequently.
Josh May 10, 2012 at 01:56 PM
so basically an ATM that has finally run out of cash
Bernadette May 10, 2012 at 01:59 PM
Lucky you that in this economy you are fortunate enough to have never been laid off or had to live paycheck to paycheck. Bank of America was outted almost two years ago for "illegal foreclosures" and "bad banking practices" - small minds have short term memories!!
Margret Brady May 10, 2012 at 02:40 PM
First, anyone with any knowledge of the printing industry knows that practically any job in the industry is hard work and far from a do nothing job. Second, Bank of American did not agree to pay that $25 million dollar fine for their mishandling of mortgages because they were innocent. Third, although I was not at the protest, I had been a customer since they came to Morristown but had already closed my accounts at BOA and moved them to the local Union Bank just down the street. When I did that, it was obvious that BOA cared far less about losing a long time loyal customer than increasing their profits in any way they could. At least I no longer wait in stalled lines and recognise the employees at my new bank. They even remember who I am and seem happy to answer questions and provide service without having to check who I am on their computer.


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