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BofA CEO says anger over George Floyd’s death won’t quiet down

Brian Moynihan, CEO of Bank of America, poses for a photograph Jan. 21, 2020
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Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan said an urgent response is needed after the killing of George Floyd sparked anger among the lender’s customers and employees.

“Things aren’t going to quiet down,” Moynihan said in a CNBC interview Wednesday. “We should not let it quiet down as a business community. We have to redouble our efforts to make progress” on economic and social issues, he said.

The company, America’s second-biggest bank, on Tuesday pledged $1 billion over four years to try to address racial and economic inequality. It said employees had expressed concern about Floyd’s death last month at the hands of Minneapolis police and similar incidents elsewhere in the U.S., including Charlotte, North Carolina, where Bank of America is based.

Demonstrations have spread across the U.S. in the past week as protesters spoke out against the killing of Floyd, an unarmed black man who died after a white police officer knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes. Looting and violence have also spread, prompting clashes with police and the imposition of curfews.

Moynihan said he received messages from employees saying they felt unsafe in their communities and asking what the company would do beyond condemning the killings.

“They’re coming at us saying, ‘Let’s put our money where our mouth is,’” he said. “We designed a program that we think will have meaningful impact.”

The lender said its pledge was a step toward addressing racial and economic inequality that’s worsened during the coronavirus pandemic. The funds will be directed to programs that focus on health, jobs, small businesses and housing, particularly in communities with many people of color, it said.

“It’s crushing to see this level of civil unrest and the deep wounds in our society,” Vice Chairman Anne Finucane said in an interview Tuesday after meeting with the company’s black and Latino employee groups. “It’s a very raw moment, but you have to engage.”

Bloomberg News