The now-closed Bank of America office in Fresno's Tower District. File photo
Written by Gabriel Dillard
Fresno City Councilmember Garry Bredefeld led a successful effort to keep the City of Fresno from a five-year banking contract with Bank of America Thursday.
Bredefeld objected to Bank of America because of its reported past history of racial discrimination. A year ago the bank settled a racial discrimination case from 1993 over allegation that officials in the Charlotte, North Carolina offce discriminated against black applicants for entry-level jobs.
The council also rejected a proposal from Wells Fargo.
“Both Bank of America and Wells Fargo have a history of racially discriminatory lending practices where they charge higher interest rates to black and Hispanic people though they had the same credit ratings as white applicants looking for the similar loans,” Bredefeld said in a statement. “We must always confront, challenge and eradicate racism whenever it emerges. I’m proud to have led the Fresno City Council in this effort. The City of Fresno will only work with national and local banks that treat all their customers fairly and equitably.”
A total of five banks submitted proposals for the city’s contract. The others were JP Morgan Chase, Union Bank and Bank of the West.
Wells Fargo and Bank of America were considered finalists, and city staff recommended the contract go to Bank of America.
Bank of America’s proposal came out to $8,517 to be charged to the city per month to provide banking services, putting it around the middle of the pack of all the proposals. Wells Fargo’s proposal was for $17,471 per month.
GVwire.com reported that a Bank of America spokesperson issued the following statement in response to the council vote.
“Diversity and inclusion are a key part of our culture and core values. We actively promote an environment where all employees have the opportunity to succeed,” Bill Halldin said.
Bank of America has provided primary banking services to the City of Fresno for more than 20 years, according to a city staff report.