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Pacific West Bank protest makes no sense

Protesters picketing in front of a bank is a common occurrence these days all over the country.

But what may be common in New York, Los Angeles or Portland isn't what you would expect here in West Linn - especially if the target of that protest is West Linn's only local, homegrown bank.

To the surprise of many last week, protesters claiming to be part of the national Occupy Wall Street movement were in front of Pacific West Bank in an effort to 'occupy' West Linn.

For some reason, the protesters felt that the local bank was in the same company as many of the national banks they see as the culprits behind the nation's problems.

Don't get me wrong. I understand freedom of speech and that everyone is entitled to their opinions.

What I don't agree with is making false accusations, misleading the media and unjustly accusing a business of misdeeds with half-truths.

That's what the organizers of this protest did; and I find that reprehensible.

Even more baffling is the decision to target the very kind of bank that the Occupy movement is encouraging people to switch their money to.

Pacific West Bank is a poster child for what a good community bank is all about. Name any cause, sports team or event and you'll see the bank's name as a sponsor.

Since Pacific West Bank opened, it has been all about supporting the community, shopping locally and trying to help local businesses grow.

The bank employees and board members pride themselves on community involvement, with many volunteering to serve on local boards and community events.

Visit the high school or junior highs in West Linn, and you'll see countless ads celebrating academic achievement spread across the walls - all sponsored by Pacific West Bank.

So why attack a local small-town bank that oozes community?

Community-minded businesses like Pacific West Bank don't deserve this type of criticism.

During these difficult economic times, businesses that walk, talk and practice the values of truly being local help keep our community the special place that it is.

Pacific West Bank deserves better.

And that's why West Linn residents and businesses need to stand behind our community institutions, even when others blindly point fingers and speak without knowing the facts.

- J. Brian Monihan is the publisher of the West Linn Tidings