Nov. 5, 2011— -- Today is Bank Transfer Day -- a deadline of sorts to a movement calling for people to shift their funds from for-profit banking institutions to not-for-profit credit unions before Nov. 5.
More than 82,000 people have RSVPed to the movement's Facebook event, which is supposed to "ensure that these banking institutions will always remember the 5th of November," by sending a message "that conscious consumers won't support companies with unethical business practices."
"The principle behind monthly debit card fees weren't something I could support as a conscious consumer," said Kristen Christian, Bank Transfer Day's sole organizer. "Investigating my options, credit unions were clearly the most logical choice. I decided ... that I had to take further action to educate the American people in how credit unions serve local communities."
And that's how Bank Transfer Day was born. Just don't confuse it with Occupy Wall Street.
"I'm humbled that OWS has chosen to adopt BTD's directive, but felt it is necessary to distinguish between the two movements because of growing fear among Bank Transfer Day supporters that I was advocating and supporting disruptive actions a select few OWS organizers have chosen to engage in," Christian told ABC News.
The 27-year-old art gallery owner from Los Angeles said she had never participated in any Occupy activities, and posted the following disclaimer on her website:
"While the Bank Transfer Day movement acknowledges the enthusiasm from Anonymous and Occupy Wall Street, the Bank Transfer Day movement was neither inspired by, derived from nor organized by Anonymous or the Occupy Wall Street movement, and the Bank Transfer Day movement does not endorse any activities conducted by Anonymous or Occupy Wall Street," the Facebook page for BankTransferDay.org states.
Several Occupy Wall Street protesters were arrested last month for entering a bank in downtown Manhattan looking to close their accounts with the bank.
At least one group has advised businesses of a "heightened risk of violence" today, but so far there have been no reports of violence stemming from the event.
The social media research company ListenLogic said it analyzed several million online posts that have identified "a significant increase in support for key Occupy events during the Nov. 5 weekend." The spike includes a 25 percent increase in threats made by protesters during the past week, nearly 70 percent of which target police.
The other most commonly targeted groups include: politicians (10 percent), corporate executives (8 percent) and reporters (3 percent). More than 80 percent of Occupy-related videos viewed on YouTube for the 30-day period ending Nov. 4 include such acts of violence, destruction or arrest activity. There are more than 1 million online posts per day about the Occupy movement, according to ListenLogic.
ListenLogic said marches to bank branches have been organized throughout the United States related to Bank Transfer Day.
At least 650,000 people have already switched to credit unions since Sept. 29, according to the Credit Union National Association, after Bank of America announced plans to charge a $5 debit card purchase fee next year. The bank announced Tuesday it was canceling the fee.
The association estimates that credit unions have added $4.5 billion in new savings accounts.
"More than four in every five credit unions experiencing growth since Sept. 29 attributed the growth to consumer reaction to new fees imposed by banks, or a combination of consumer reactions to the new bank fees plus the social media-inspired Bank Transfer Day," the association said in a statement.
Christian said she did not intend to start a big movement when she shared her plans with her 500 Facebook friends.
Christian also explained the reference to Englishman Guy Fawkes who tried to assassinate King James I in an attempt to restore Catholicism on Nov. 5, 1605. Fawkes' mask has become more widely used in the Occupy Wall Street protests.
ListenLogic said Guy Fawkes masks are used by Occupy protesters to symbolize anarchist intentions and, "more recently, to maintain anonymity while being destructive," Christian said.
Occupy protesters with anarchist intentions are planning bonfires in city streets, according to Christian.
Christian said she hopes the use of Eddie Colla's Guy Fawkes imagery would replace any previous negative association of this date with the image of Americans in peaceful solidarity fighting for ethical business practices and community growth.
While many credit unions have cheered on her effort, some have said Saturday is not an ideal date for thousands to transfer their accounts.
Stephen Ranzini, president of University Bank in Ann Arbor, Mich., said there could be technical difficulties in transferring money on a day when money can't be transferred between institutions because the Federal Reserve is closed.
"Come Friday. Come Monday. Why come Saturday?" he told the Wall Street Journal.