Sheila Karlson used to keep her money in a "big" bank until a few years ago, when she was laid off from her job as a software technician. Karlson was worried about how she was going to continue making the sizeable monthly payments due on her
credit card. When she went to her bank for a loan and they refused to listen to her, she took her money to a smaller, community bank.
"I got a loan and eventually was able to pay the card off," said Karlson, 68.
The Livermore resident was one of about 40 people who gathered on Crow Canyon Road in San Ramon on Saturday -- in front of a plaza that contains branches of Bank of America, Citibank, Chase and Wells Fargo -- to participate in "Bank Transfer Day," a national day of action aimed at encouraging people to ditch "big" banks in favor of smaller community banks and credit unions.
The participants in Saturday's protest, organized by activist group MoveOn.org, said they wanted to bring attention to their frustration with seeing people across the country losing their jobs, their health insurance and their homes because of the financial crisis while banks receive bailouts, Wall Street receives bonuses and the
government remains inactive.
"I'm tired of the direction this country is going in, and the inability of Congress to do
anything about it," said 63-year-old Danville resident John Barry, Lynn Summers agreed.
"The issue is fairness," Summers, 66, from Danville, said. "This is a groundswell
organization of people who realize there's a grave injustice in the country."
Shayna Friedman, 17, and her brother Mason, 14, walked over from their nearby house to check out the demonstration.
Both she and her brother have been keeping up with the movements that have been occurring across the country, but said that not that many people their age have -- and that needs to change.
"It has to do with our future," Shayna Friedman said.
Mason agreed, adding that the protests definitely affect teens. "Going to college doesn't guarantee us a job anymore," he said. "That's a big worry."
Saturday's crowd had about 10 or 15 more people than at previous demonstrations organized by MoveOn.org in San Ramon, estimated Karen Beck, the organizer for the Tri-Valley chapter of the group.
"We're working still on getting people's attention," Beck said. "We're still waking people up."
Like many of the demonstrators, Bob Shattuck, 70, said he was optimistic that the movement would continue to grow. The Danville resident said he was inspired to come out after viewing the Occupy Wall Street movement a few weeks ago during
a visit to New York City. He took several pictures, but didn't know too much about
what was going on. When he got back home, he went online to learn more and decided to get involved.
"My hope is that this will encourage other people to join, and more and more people will get enthusiastic," Shattuck, 70 said, as several of the cars traveling down Crow Canyon road honked in support of the demonstrators. "Or they'll at least investigate what's going on."