by Linda Mumma


MODESTO (CBS13) — An unusual protest was held outside of a Bank of America branch in West Modesto on Tuesday morning.

Families there said they’re upset because the company is closing the location after close to 60 years.

“I come here a lot and I had no idea they were closing. I wasn’t given a notice,” said customer Brenda Kraft.

Armed with signs, a microphone, and a speaker, Kraft joined a small group of people gathered outside of the branch on Paradise Road to protest its closure.

“I know Bank of America is one of the finest institutions in America, but they’re letting us down in West Modesto,” said customer Deborah Johns.

Johns told CBS13 she is partially blind and relies on an assisted walking device to get around.

“We need this bank. It’s our community bank,” she explained.

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“This is the only bank here. That’s why we’re here,” explained another customer, Ron Deloach, who helped organize the protest along with the ‘West Modesto People of Action Council.”

Some members of the group said they have done business at the bank for decades.

“I have used them since 1978 and I’ve put a lot of money in this bank,” said Kraft.

Others said the branch is the only option near their homes.

“This is a low-income area,” said Deloach. “We have a lot of seniors and disabled in this part of town.”

Some of the protesters said they prefer to visit the Bank of America branch in-person rather than bank online.

“I will never use an app on my phone. My identity has been stolen,” said Kraft.

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Kraft said some members don’t even own a smartphone.

“A lot of them would rather walk into the bank and talk with a human,” she said. “Plus they have Spanish speakers in here and a lot of Spanish-speaking people love this bank.”

She said some customers only operate in cash.

“A lot of them deal with cash,” she added. “I’ve seen people put cash into the ATM too.”

Bank of America said it notified customers of the closure more than 90 days in advance and the nearest location is just two miles away on I Street in Downtown Modesto.

In a statement to CBS13 – a spokesperson said: “The decision to close a financial center is never an easy one, and this one is driven primarily by a decline in transactions as customers increasingly do their traditional banking outside of financial centers.  Other factors include consolidating centers with a notable overlap in the communities they serve, such as the Paradise Road and I Street financial centers.”

But some customers argued it will be difficult for them to get to the downtown location. Especially for those that are elderly and disabled.

“A lot of us depend on the bus, taxi and family. Now we got to make appointments to go with dial-a-ride and it’s going to be hard,” said Johns.

Bank of America said there will be no impact to client accounts, which can be accessed at one of four additional financial centers across Modesto as well as at its full-service ATM located on I Street.

The branch in West Modesto is scheduled to close on Wednesday.

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