UPDATE: Occupy Vancouver makes appeal to city

Group wants it to use local businesses in its various dealings

By Andrea Damewood and Kathie Durbin

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Occupy Vancouver organizers thanked the Vancouver City Council Monday evening for its responsiveness to its questions about the possibility of withdrawing some city money from the Bank of America and depositing it in a community bank.

But since the topic came up, the group said, it had learned that local banks don’t benefit much from having public money deposits, as there are tight restrictions on how banks can then reinvest that money. A memo from the city’s chief financial officer also explained that no local banks applied to handle the city’s banking services when the contract was up in 2010.

“We just want to ask you to be as proactive as you can to use local businesses,” Occupy Vancouver member Tom Scharf said. “Even if it costs slightly more, it generates economic benefits.”

Scharf said that like the recently-evicted Occupy Portland group, Vancouver’s members are “scattered.” But a core group dedicated to the cause remains and will continue with events, he said.

“It’s hard to say. We initially had some very strong momentum,” Scharf said. “I believe we have communication problems we need to solve.”

Occupy Vancouver protesters raised the bank issue on Nov. 5, dubbed “Bank Transfer Day,” when consumers around the country mounted a revolt against big national banks by transferring their money to local credit unions and community banks. About 20 protesters demonstrated in front of Vancouver City Hall that day to demand that the city stop doing business with Bank of America.

Lloyd Tyler, the city’s chief financial officer, issued a memo Nov. 1, stating that in June 2010, the city, Clark County and the Port of Vancouver issued a joint request for proposals for financial services to 14 full-service financial institutions. Four national banks and no local banks responded, he said. Both the city and the county ranked Bank of America the highest on a series of evaluation criteria.

Occupy Vancouver had a small rally and march Saturday, but organizer Dan Walker said there was no organized effort to join the Occupy Portland standoff in downtown Portland. The movement will hold future general assemblies at 6 p.m. Tuesdays in the Klickitat Room of the Vancouver Community Library.

Walker was not present for the Portland standoff but monitored it closely via live video. “I actually think it went a lot better than it could have gone,” he said. “I really think the Portland police handled it the best way they could.”

He also complimented the protesters. “There were a few people trying to agitate others and get something started, but the protesters pushed them aside and said they were trying to cause problems. In every movement, you are going to have those few people,” he said.

Vancouver police sent 12 officers to assist the Portland Police Bureau on Sunday. Those officers are collateral members of the civil disturbance team, meaning they have special training to respond to crowd control situations but have regular full-time jobs with the Vancouver Police Department, spokeswoman Kim Kapp said.

Kapp said the team is used primarily to assist other agencies under mutual aid agreements. She said she was not aware of any situation in which the team has been deployed in Vancouver.

Paul Suarez contributed to this report.