Hunger strike called to protest treatment of minorities listen05/27/09 Seán Kinane
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Unemployment, home foreclosures and economic uncertainty are aspects of the current recession that affect people from all walks of life. One Floridian is putting his life on the line to try to make a difference among the hardest hit segments of society.
Al Piña is chair of the Florida Minority Community Reinvestment Coalition (FMCRC). On June 15th, Piña will begin a water-only hunger strike protesting the lending practices of Bank of America toward minority communities.
Piña says he will continue his hunger strike until Bank of America takes certain actions, including holding a meeting between FMCRC activists and Walter Massey, chair of the Bank of America Board of Directors.
“And you will be part of that meeting. We’re going to have an annual meeting with the CEO."
Piña announced the demands following the 7th Annual FMCRC Florida Minority Community Economic Development Summit in Clearwater Beach on Wednesday. The two-day summit was sponsored in part by seven banks, but Bank of America was not one of them. “They’re a symbol of economic segregation.”
But Mike Fields, the Florida state president for Bank of America, disagrees with Piña that the bank does not invest enough in minority communities or businesses.
“Well, we categorically deny that. … We have delivered more than $35.7 billion in community development lending and investments in low-to-moderate income communities in Florida alone.”
Fields says that Piña’s hunger strike to get concessions from Bank of America is not necessary: “We don’t think it’s warranted.”
Despite Bank of America’s assertions, Al Piña plans to go ahead with his hunger strike unless all of FMCRC’s requests are met. His supporters, including Glorious Johnson, prayed for him Wednesday afternoon. Johnson is a member of the Jacksonville City Council and is contemplating running for Mayor in 2010.
The co-chair of the FMCRC Bank of America Florida Boycott Planning Committee is Sam Lopez, chair of the Florida Puerto Rican / Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
Several chambers of commerce are part of the FMCRC Bank of America Florida Boycott Planning Committee, including the Latin Chamber of Commerce of the Treasure Coast. Bobby Rodriguez is their president.