Bank Protests and Making Wall Street Pay

This is some great film of National People’s Action holding a protest in DC to raise awareness of the possible deal brokered between 50 attorneys general and large U.S. banks accused of “flawed and fraudulent foreclosure practices,” or “foreclosuregate.”

NPA managed to temporarily close down the particular BofA branch at which they protested, but the rally was meant to underscore part of the deal that proposes a $20 billion settlement. Elizabeth Warren, head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and former overseer of TARP, and FDIC chair Sheila Baer are also pushing for larger fines,

Why? As Hugh Epsey, executive director of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement eloquently states in The Post’s coverage, $20 billion is “peanuts. It’s chump change.” He added that penalties “should be in the hundreds of billions of dollars.”

This protest is only the latest in a rising tide of bank protest as distrust in banking industry remains high and as banks remain profitable, and are on track to pay out $146 billion in bonuses this year! In a recent interview with Shelterforce, Amy Schur, director of the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE), characterized the sustained level of protests as “little brush fires going on all over the place.”

People are waiting to take action against the banks. What we’re starting to see is a broader recognition, and a broader determiniation by those affected to put themselves on the line. We do expect to see more more families who would normally not get inovolved in this type of activity.

While this particular NPA effort was planned as part of the Make Wall Street Pay initiative, it’s in line with the Bank Accountability Campaign, which is a new alliance between PICO, National People’s Action, SEIU, Northwest Federation of Community Organizations (NWFCO), Southeast IAF, and ACCE. Getting banks to engage in mortgage principlal reduction is part of this campaign strategy. “We’ve been working hard to get the attention of attorneys general around the country. we see this as a campaign to hold accountable to pressure big banks to stop the rip off from cities and states and to start keeping people in their homes,” Schur said.

Matthew Brian Hersh served as senior editor at Shelterforce from March 2008 to October 2012. He studied English at Rutgers University and has spent his professional career in journalism, policy, and politics.

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