October 28, 2009

Wall Street meets main street in Chicago

Filed under: Uncategorized — Greg in cheeseland @ 12:45 am


Early this week, over 1500 banking executives gathered at the Sheraton hotel in Chicago for what is normally a tranquil, low-key event, the American Bankers Association (ABA) convention. Thousands of protesters from across the nation made sure it was different this year.

The morning protests started outside the Chicago offices of Goldman Sachs. A speaker on a megaphone shouted, “We’re here to tell Goldman Sachs, shame on you! Shame on you for helping bring this country to the brink of a depression!” The crowd responded, “Shame on you!” Organizers presented a list of demands for Goldman Sachs in a hand-delivered letter that was dropped off in the lobby, including that the bank stop resisting proposals for a Consumer Finance Protection Agency (CFPA) and that it donate the money set aside for bonuses to mortgage-modification programs. The protesters then marched down the street to the Chicago offices of Wells Fargo. There they also attempted to hand-deliver a similar letter to John Stumpf, the Wells Fargo CEO.

The march ended at the Sheraton outside the ABA convention, where demonstrators carried effigies of bank executives, including John Stumpf, former Bank of America CEO Ken Lewis and JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon. Some displayed “Wanted” signs bearing the faces of bank executives that read “Wall Street Robber Banker.” They carried signs with slogans such as “No Bonuses for Big Banks” and chanted sayings like “Bailouts? No thanks! Bust up big banks!”

The difference, however, between this demonstration and other recent demonstrations was summed up by a student at UW-Madison who attended the rally. “There was a clear agenda here and clear goals, not misdirected anger. There were people here from all walks of life – blue collar, white collar; urban, rural; young, old – it was a true representation of Americans united for a common cause.”

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