Minnesota: March on Banks Demands Stop Foreclosures and Evictions
Minneapolis, MN – “You got bailed out, we got sold out! Stop foreclosures now!” was the rallying call during a protest here June 13 as a crowd of 75 people surged to the doors of a US Bank branch on Lake Street. Minneapolis police officers blocked the doors of the bank building, calling in more squad cars, which arrived with sirens blaring.
The protest and march was organized by the Minnesota Coalition for a People’s Bailout. It called on banks and mortgage companies to stop forecloses and the displacement of homeowners and to stop evicting tenants from rental properties that have been foreclosed upon.
In response to breaking news, the march first went to a branch of Wells Fargo Bank, in solidarity with the workers of Quad City Die Casting. Wells Fargo has pulled the financing of the Moline, Illinois based company and workers are waging a powerful fight to keep the plant open. The Moline workers sent a statement to the protest, which read in part, “Wells Fargo received $25 billion in taxpayer money, supposedly to keep the economy going. Instead, they’ve pocketed that money for executive bonuses and are closing down factories like ours and throwing thousands of workers into the street. It’s time we said enough is enough.”
The march then proceeded east on Lake Street to US Bank, in company with appreciative honks and shouts from cars and passersby. US Bank has received $6.6 billion in TARP, the federal bank bailout, yet it continues to foreclose and evict local families.
Deb Konechne, of the Welfare Rights Committee, a member group of the Minnesota Coalition for a People’s Bailout, spoke for the Coalition: “The bailout money would have been much better spent going directly to the families in need – to keep people in their homes – instead of to the financial institutions whose only motivation is their own profit. U.S. Bank received over $6 billion of the federal bailout TARP funds. Now they want to give the bailout money back, because it has too many ‘strings attached.’ The strings they apparently don’t want is that the money is to be used to refinance people’s homes, instead of lining the pockets of the greedy CEOs.”
Konechne added, “These greedy banks are like parasites, sucking the blood out of our communities and neighborhoods. They take our money in good times, but in bad times, they throw us to the curb!”
State Representative Jeff Hayden, a Democrat from south Minneapolis, compared the current foreclosure crisis to the crack epidemic of the 1980s. He pointed out that removing longtime residents from their homes was destroying the culture and history of the community. Minneapolis city councilmember Elizabeth Glidden, who was pushed the city council to pass a resolution against evictions, also addressed the crowd.
Niger Arevalo from the Minnesota Immigrant Rights Action Coalition, said, “It’s important for the Latino community to join in these protests to speak out against foreclosures and evictions, because they are affecting our community, together with other working class communities.”
Alan Dale, of the Minnesota Coalition for a People’s Bailout, stated, “The economic crisis is not the fault of working and low-income people. Banks and mortgage companies sold mortgages with escalating interest rates and penalties that were doomed to fail. Increasing layoffs and the economic crisis will lead to more people falling behind on mortgage payments. Working people and low-income people need a bail out. We need time to get through this economic crisis and to save our homes.”
Tom Lenius, before presenting a ‘notice of default’ to US Bank, said, “The banks are in the habit of sending notices of default to the people. Today, the people of Minneapolis gave notice to Wells Fargo and US Bank that they are in default of their obligations to ensure that their activities do not negatively impact the communities in which they do business.” Then the crowd went up to the doors of the bank.
The police snatched the notice and then informed the crowd that the bank manager was too afraid to come out and talk. Coalition member Mick Kelly spoke through the bullhorn to the crowd, “The banks are scared because we are building a movement of low-income and working people that is going to fight back to keep our homes and to stay in our homes and to demand an end to foreclosures and evictions!”