Occupy Frederick supporters look to abandon large financial institutions



supporters are asking residents to move their money to a local bank or credit union today.

A similar project in November drew national attention when it encouraged people to invest in local financial institutions. As the movement continues nationwide, Occupy supporters said they are ready for round two.

“The basic idea is that local people should be in charge of local resources. This includes money,” said Occupy supporter Dylan Petrohilos.

Occupy Frederick supporters want residents to close their accounts at large banks — such as Bank of America — and transfer their money to a local bank or credit union such as Woodsboro Bank, Frederick County Bank or Comstar Federal Credit Union.

All three financial institutions were listed on a flier distributed by Occupy supporters.

Petrohilos said none of the banks has endorsed their action. But one credit union did not have an issue with being on their list.

Comstar doubled its monthly intake when the first Move Your Money Day project launched, according to marketing manager Jennifer Stillrich.

Stillrich said more than 100 residents signed up for credit union accounts on Nov. 5, bringing the monthly new account total to 328.

Before the movement the credit union averaged about 180 new accounts a month.

“It was really great to see the community learning a little bit more about credit unions and be willing to give it a try,” she said.

The Frederick-based credit union also launched its own independent campaign in November aimed at generating new accounts. Occupy Comstar is the financial institution’s latest attempt to increase credit union membership.

Occupy Comstar incentives include paying residents to make the switch and giving away prizes.

Stillrich said the name of the campaign was just a way to bring attention to the credit union’s offerings, not a political viewpoint.

“We don’t really have a political stand on it,” Stillrich said. “We chose Occupy Comstar because we wanted members to move here as a result of the Move Your Money Day. Occupy was just kind of a catchy way to incorporate that. We knew it was in the news.”

For supporters of the Occupy movement, it is more than just a catchy word. Local supporters say moving their accounts is another way to take a stand against economic injustice.

Petrohilos said he planned to switch from BB&T to Sandy Spring Bank today.

He said making a change will benefit the economy in the county while it will also take away from large financial institutions that are hurting subgroups such as senior citizens.

“While I know they are not perfect, they aren’t hurting the community as much,” Petrohilos said of Sandy Spring Bank.

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