This week National People’s Action launched Confront Corporate Power, a campaign in conjunction with a number of progressive, labor, student, and environmental groups to take back our democracy from the biggest and most powerful corporate interests in the country.
Below is a round-up of the action, so far. Make sure to follow #99power on Twitter for up-to-the-minute updates on Confront Corporate Power.
Here’s a summary of the action, so far. Please check back soon for more updates!
From Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE): After the shocking news that Freddie Mac placed billion-dollar bets against homeowners in direct conflict with its mission of making homeownership more affordable, angry southern California residents protestd the mortgage giant’s West Coast headquarters in Los Angeles Thursday, fighting to protect homeowner and ex-Marine Arturo de los Santos from eviction.
Protestors then proceeded to the home in Riverside where Art, his wife and four kids have moved back in and launch an around-the-clock encampment to support him. Freddie Mac is going to court Thursday to obtain a writ of possession on the house, and Sheriff deputies could arrive to evict anytime.
Demonstrators demanded a halt to the eviction by Freddie Mac of ex-Marine Arturo de los Santos and called on Freddie Mac to re-invest in its mission “to expand opportunities for homeownership” by supporting and promoting mortgage reductions to fair market value for underwater homeowners, which according to a recent study, would create over 1 million jobs and inject over $70 billion into the economy.
Arturo de los Santos, who lives in Riverside, CA with his wife and four children, is the face of the American homeowner that Freddie Mac is betting against. An ex-marine, Arturo has lived in the home for about ten years with his wife and four kids. When the economic crisis hit in 2008, the factory he works at reduced his hours. Like millions of hardworking Americans, the reduced income forced him to pursue a modification in his mortgage. Freddie Mac’s mortgage servicer, JP Morgan Chase, informed de los Santos that in order to negotiate a loan modification he had to be in default on his loan. De los Santos was caught in the Catch-22 that proved to be profitable for Freddie Mac.
Freddie Mac and Chase launched foreclosure proceedings. Before the house was foreclosed, de los Santos’ hours and income returned to its pre-crash levels, but his pleas to his bank and Freddie Mac to negotiate a permanent modification fell on deaf ears and he was foreclosed and evicted.
On December 6, Art and his family took the courageous step of re-occupying their home. de los Santos has the income to afford the property, and since moving back in he has publicly asked Freddie Mac (and his lender JPMorgan Chase) why they won’t accept his money. de los Santos saw the shocking news about Freddie Mac this week after he got a court summons at his door from Freddie Mac threatening to arrest him if he doesn’t leave his house. de los Santos is a member of ACCE, the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment.
From Connecticut Citizen Action Group: On Wednesday, organizers with CT Citizen Action Group delivered a demand letter to Bank of America, one of the worst culprits of tax evasion and consumer issues. Demanding that the bank treat workers fairly, provide principal reduction to homeowners, be fully investigated for fraudulent mortgage practices, and refuse to use depositor money in politics the letter was delivered in Hartford, CT. Video of the action here:
From Reverand Cheryl Rivera: Myself, six Federation Clergy, and four Laity delivered the letter to Jessica Watts, Vice President, JP Morgan Chase Regional Corporate office.
It was a spirited encounter. We entered into the Chase Bank lobby, asked for Jessica Watts and a man who said he was an executive came out to tell us we could not have our protest signs in Chase Bank.
Jessica Watts soon approached, asking what she could do for the group.
Federation Script included 6 clergy railing Chase for bad corpoarate behavior. IIRON, NPA and Bottom Line were lifted up.
We were threatend with arrest and asked to leave the property by Chase Executive and Property Mananger. Rev. Crews shouted to Chase Executives: “Call the Police, we are prepared to go to jail for what we believe in. Chase is wrong!”
Streitelmeier added firmly, “You will arrest us for civil protest, but noboby who bankrupted this country’s economy went to jail?”
We left the bank lobby singing, WE SHALL OVERCOME and then we went outside for evaluation. Pastor Chester Bell said “I’m mad as hell.” Before we finished three Merrillville Police rolled up beside us and told to ”Leave the property right now or you will be arrested. They don’t want you on the property. You’ve been warned 3 times.” We disbursed and vowed to fight another day. We’ll be back.
A dozen people with signs, marched, chanted, read the letter, signed it, and delivered it to the security guard at a Bank of America branch. The angry/frustrated manager came out while we were reading the letter and confronted us, but we were standing on public sidewalk so he had no grounds to ask us to move. Police were called, but when the officer came, he mostly seemed annoyed that the manager had called him. We had one reporter show up from our local NBC affiliate.
From Chicago Northside P.O.W.E.R. (People Organized to Work, Educate and Restore): On Wednesday, Northside P.O.W.E.R. leaders marched to Bank of America to demand the bank adjust the mortgage of Evanston resident Rita Pope. The march continued to Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office to demand she withdraw Illinois from the 50 state robosigning settlement.
Bank of America, despite having been bailed out by taxpayers, has refused to return the favor to unemployed and underemployed homeowners who are struggling to repay their mortgages. Ms. Pope has applied for “hardest hit” help, but Bank of America refuses to write down principal on the mortgage. Unless community leaders intervene, Bank of America intends to evict Ms. Pope.
After the “robosigning” fraud was discovered in the mortgage industry, AGs from all 50 states entered negotiations for a settlement designed to be a slap on the wrist. Due to the fundamental inadequacy of this process, a number of state AGs have since pulled out of the negotiations, including New York and California. Illinois’ AG Lisa Madigan must do likewise. We call for her to support a full investigation into fraud in the mortgage industry, and a settlement that addresses the full $700 billion of underwater mortgage debt.
New York City
A number of leaders from VOCAL-NY recently became shareholders of Bank of America. These shareholders arrived at a Bank of America office on Wednesday to deliver a letter with the demands of Confront Corporate Power. Instead of accepting the letter, the bank called the police on it’s own shareholders. The leaders left without delivering the letter, but not without a message: “We’ll see you at the [shareholder] meeting.”