Socialist Worker

Activists arrested as they expose bank’s role in crisis

by Anindya Bhattacharyya in New York
Issue No. 2274

Some 23 activists were arrested at a protest at Citibank on Saturday afternoon. I was reporting on the demonstrations and was held with them.

The protest had been entirely peaceful. People were simply standing in the bank lobby talking loudly about how Citibank’s role in the US’s incipient student debt crisis.

“We’re told that education is an investment and that we’d get a return on our investment,” said Kendall, a student from New York University.

“But where’s the return if you can’t get a job?”

She added that student loans were almost impossible to default on. Declaring yourself bankrupt wouldn’t help. Some loans involved life insurance policies or insisted on relatives co-signing to ensure that even if you died, the loan would still be paid.

The protesters were entirely respectful towards bank staff and customers. Then, out of the blue, the bank doors were locked. Police arrived to cuff and arrest the lot of us.

One woman protester had closed her Citibank account as part of the protest and had left the building. She and her partner were rounded up by police outside the bank and bundled back in.

They had been spotted by an undercover police officer who had been with us inside posing as a protester. The police had been intending to arrest us all along.

We were the first of 92 arrests in New York that day. But this figure was considerably smaller than those arrested on previous weekends. And it was dwarfed by the tens of thousands that participated in the protests that day.

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