Demonstrators targeting Bank of America annual shareholder meeting

CHARLOTTE, N.C., Wed May 9, 2012 – Demonstrators are expected to swarm Bank of America Corp.’s annual shareholder meeting on Wednesday to voice anger over a range of issues from foreclosures to corporate taxes to financing for the coal industry.

The meeting, held in the bank’s headquarters city of Charlotte, N.C., has drawn protesters in the past, but advocacy groups operating under the name 99% Power are predicting much bigger crowds this year. Inside the meeting, stockholders will vote on the bank’s executive pay plan, elect directors and get a chance to voice their opinions to Chief Executive Brian Moynihan.

“Shareholder season is one of the only times of the year when everyday people can go face-to-face with the most powerful corporate decision makers in the country,” said Amanda Starbuck, of the Rainforest Action Network, an environmental activist group that is part of the coalition.

Inspired by the Occupy Wall Street movement, demonstrators have been targeting corporate shareholder meetings this year to keep a spotlight on concerns about economic disparity in the United States. More than 500 demonstrators engulfed Wells Fargo & Co’s (WFC.N) meeting site in April, resulting in 24 arrests.

Charlotte officials have declared the Bank of America meeting an “extraordinary event” under an ordinance passed in January to help officials handle protests expected in the city during the Democratic National Convention in September. The ordinance allows the city to ban certain items, ranging from backpacks to crowbars, at large events.

Bank of America spokesman Scott Silvestri declined to comment on the planned protests.

The second-largest U.S. bank has faced intense scrutiny for taking government bailouts during the financial crisis, for mishandling foreclosure paperwork and for attempting to implement a now-canceled monthly $5 debit card fee last fall.

GE annual meeting interrupted by 99 Percent protesters

DETROIT, Wed Apr 25, 2012 – Nearly 100 protesters affiliated with the “99 Percent” populist movement disrupted General Electric Co’s. annual shareholders’ meeting on Wednesday in an attack on the largest U.S. conglomerate’s low tax rate.

The demonstrators, who began chanting “Pay Your Fair Share” when the meeting began, were quickly ushered out of the meeting — held in the Detroit building that houses General Motors Co’s. headquarters — but could still be heard chanting protests as the meeting got under way.

After their exit, Chief Financial Officer Keith Sherin stepped up to defend GE’s tax practices, and noted that the company’s low tax rates in 2008 and 2009 were the result of heavy losses at GE Capital.

“Over the 2008 through 2010 time period we lost over $30 billion in credit losses at GE Capital and that reduced our pre-tax income and also our rate,” Sherin said. “Our U.S. tax expense last year was $2.6 billion. We are a large taxpayer, we pay our taxes and we very much support tax reform.”

As they were ushered outside, protesters rejoined a large crowd of hundreds of other demonstrators with signs that read “Tax Dodgers at Work” and “This is What Democracy Looks Like.” Police herded them away from the riverfront building.