Every Tuesday, City Life hosts a "bank-tenant" meeting at its Amory Street war bunker. By 7 pm there's over 100 people here, and the session is in full swing. As a first order of business, new recruits are sworn in. One woman drove in from Randolph, where her Sun Trust loan caved in, while another first-timer tells of a Freddie Mac loan that recently sank below sea level. To embolden them, newcomers are presented with an info packet and a three-foot wooden sword, the latter of which they're told to hoist like He-Man as they're asked if they're prepared to fight. Once they say "YES," the crowd responds loudly and in unison, "THEN WE'LL FIGHT WITH YOU."
There's only standing room left by the time they discuss the September 30 anti-BoA actions, which one regular calls, "the big bout that we've been waiting for." A City Life organizer, legendary activist Steve Meacham, lays out the game plan for the following week and asks for volunteers for specific missions. He also tells them what to expect — from police, passers-by, and their own cohorts.
Heavy boos erupt every time offending banks are named. BoA gets extra-loud shouts — following one mention, people holler "STAND UP FIGHT BACK" over and over for several minutes.
Toward the end, Meacham and other organizers lend a last bit of encouragement, asking the crowd, "How many times have you felt in your heart that thousands of people need to come out and fight together?" Meacham continues: "This extraordinary crisis requires extraordinary measures, because we're no longer in a skirmish. This is a battle, and this time we're on offense, so we have to push a little harder. Look at what they've done to us — now it's time to go to their homes and disrupt their lives."
TAKING OUT THE GARBAGE Activists deliver trash from a foreclosed property to Bank of America president Robert Gallery's Beacon Hill home.
ONE MAN'S TRASH ON ANOTHER MAN'S TREASURE
The next day, Meacham is standing on the northwest corner of the Public Garden sporting his trademark red baseball cap, blue button-down, and bullhorn. The City Life operatives around him are hard to miss in their bright green gear, as are their MassUniting comrades in their electric-orange T-shirts. This joint operation began days earlier, when people from both groups collected garbage from a foreclosed BoA property in Malden. After being told to leave the bank branch where they attempted to discard the trash, activists thought it fitting to drop the waste off at BoA president Gallery's Beacon Hill home.
The group is momentarily set back as one woman faints from the heat and excitement. After she's hauled off in an ambulance, a City Life point man yells "LET'S GET IT," and leads the flock of 30 toward the target. A young blonde on Gallery's stoop looks up from her cell phone and sees a swarm approaching her — carrying giant bags of rubbish and chanting "WE CAN'T TAKE IT ANY MORE — GONNA LEAVE THIS TRASH ON GALLERY'S DOOR."
She turns and locks herself in the house.