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California Chase Branch Managers get lesson in freedom of speech — Motorists honk in support of protester!

According to a (March 30, 2009) Chase press release entitled, “Chase — California’s New Bank – Unveils Name, Octagon on 708 Bank Branches, 2,003 ATMs,” Chase California branches can be found in “324 cities in 44 counties formerly served by WaMu.”

As you may recall (in connection with questions about exactly what Chase and other banks were doing with YOUR bail out money), following its September 2008 acquisition of Washington Mutual’s banking operations, including the former WaMu brand, Chase now operates more than 5,000 branches nationwide (as is also indicated in the cited press release).  Here’s a link to a handy branch location finder (you might find this useful as you read further).

Meanwhile, the purpose of this post is to convey that some Chase branch managers may not be familiar with protections that we have as ordinary citizens, such as “freedom of speech.”

I realize that it would be nice, from the bank’s point of view, if we were all serfs with no rights whatsoever (economically enslaved), but we still have the right to protest.

For months, Alessandro Machi has been doing a fabulous job of protesting through his live appearances with Daily-Protest.com signs.  And recently, I have been contacted by another fellow “Comrade in the Chase Resistance Movement,” who has also been garnering the approval of motorists who have honked in favor of his message as they have observed his “DON’T TRUST” (side 1) — “CHASE” (side 2) sign.

Of course, Chase branch managers don’t really seem to care for free speech, coming from customers, and that’s too bad.

I do find it ironic that the “that’s too bad we can do anything we please attitude” regularly exhibited by Chase employees (not afraid of the impotent OCC) toward customers has now backfired: Customers have the right to speak out in protest against Chase, for having done as it darned well pleased (in a manner that many customers consider to be outrageous and hurtful).

I have been asked not to promote the name of our new-found friend and fellow protester, but he has supplied plenty of other material and permission to share it.  Taken from his emails, here is a description of the activities with which he has been involved:

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“The first 2 days, the bank manager tried to intimidate me any way he could:

1)       He attempted to “video” me with his cell phone.  I blocked my face like an accused criminal!

2)       He asked me if I had a permit.  No, I didn’t.  But I told him that I had already personally visited the Buena Park Police Department the day before and they told me I didn’t need one if I stayed on the sidewalk.

3)       He told me I could not distribute anything.  At that point, I told him to call the police.  He said they were already called!

4)       Police arrived.  The police officer did not even get out of his car!  The officer told me that the bank manager claimed I was blocking their private driveway.  This was a complete fabrication!  I politely suggested that the officer review the bank manager’s cell phone video and the officer will NOT see that on the video!  The police officer then drove away without taking any further statement from the bank personnel!  I went back to holding my sign!

5)       By the second day, I was allowing the bank manager to “video” my face with his cell phone.  As soon as I did that, he wasn’t interested in videoing me any more!

Intimidation didn’t work, so now the branch is in the ignore mode.

For the record, the branch number is #1281, at the corner of the very busy intersection of Beach Blvd. and La Palma Ave., Buena Park, CA (caddy corner to Knott’s Berry Farm – Famous landmark in Buena Park, CA – The nation’s first “themed” amusement park! – Origin of the “Boysenberry” and built before Disneyland, also in Orange County, CA!).

It seems odd to me that the branch numbers do not appear on their website!

Here’s what else I have done.  I have gone to about 7 branches now, and have personally handed the “BEWARE” flyer [see below] to the bank manager (if possible) or an assistant manager, and informed him or her that this flyer will be given to all of their customers.  I then walk out of the branch.  They usually look dumbfounded!  But, from what I gather, I think they have a procedure in place for this kind of activity.  I believe, at the very least, that they are instructed to fax the “flyer” to their District Manager.  My 7 branches are in 2 counties, Orange and Los Angeles!  I hope Chase is buzzing behind the scenes with one or more District Managers receiving the same flyer from all of these different branches.

This is something people can do!  Take the flyer to their local Chase branch.  As many branches as possible!  Ask to speak to the manager.  Tell him or her that this flyer will be handed out to all their customers.  And then leave!”

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One word of caution to folks: If you decide to mount your own protest, make sure you are familiar with your rights and responsibilities under your own local laws (and keep in mind that ChangeInTerms.com is not engaged in rendering professional or legal advice).

For example, you will note that the police department in Buena Park was consulted, first.  Further, in the above instance, the flyer could not be given to any customers on bank property (doing so would have been considered trespassing).  But, as a customer, people do have a right to “communicate” (for example, with the branch manager and/or his or her designated representative). 

I also learned that one of the benefits of the location associated with the photos below was as follows:

“By the way, another advantage of this branch at this busy intersection is because I believe the bus stop at this corner is a bus schedule, timepoint. That means that if a bus arrives there ahead of schedule, the driver must wait there until the scheduled departure time. So, I use that opportunity to hand the flyer to the bus driver and tell him or her to spread the word to all of their friends and work associates! Not one driver has refused it! Hey, they need some light reading to fill these pauses in their day!”

Here are the photos (we love them!):

DON'T TRUST CHASE protest sign at California Chase bank branch

Beach Blvd., north of La Palma Ave. looking north-west. “DON’T TRUST”

(Back side of DON'T TRUST) CHASE protest sign at California Chase bank branch

Beach Blvd., north of La Palma Ave. looking north-west. “CHASE”

Here is a link to the handout (about which our friend stated, “I would like to see this flyer go nationwide!” — so would we!).

Finally, here is a copy of a press release that was sent to The Orange County Register (no answer — but there are plenty of other members of the media who may appreciate having a copy):

For Immediate Release

To: Michael Mello, The Orange County Register

08/04/2009

Buena Park, CA

Hundreds, if not thousands of motorists were greeted today driving north on Beach Blvd., north of La Palma Ave. by the words, “DON’T TRUST CHASE”. Those words were emblazoned upon a sign held by a yet to be identified male protester in front of the Chase Bank Branch located on that corner. Many motorists felt inclined to honk in support of those words.

Apparently, this individual has grievances with the “Change in Terms” on credit cards issued by Chase Bank. Upon learning of the presence of the protester, the bank manager emerged from the branch in 90+ degree heat, and proceeded to video the individual with his cell phone. When that did not encourage the protester to leave, the Buena Park Police were called to complain that the protester was allegedly, illegally blocking their private driveway on Beach Blvd. Upon arrival, the police determined that no violations had occurred and they drove off without taking any further statement from bank personnel.

According to the protester, these daily protests will continue until an acceptable resolution is reached with Chase Bank.

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I can’t help but wonder if Chase sent any of its infamous change in terms notices to police officers (maybe the one who was called by Chase’s Branch Manager!)?

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