As the Re-Fund California coalition is preparing for its final march of the two-week action blitz, it’s worth taking a moment to report on several epic actions throughout California. Today's story in the front page of the business section of the LA times captured the momentum against Wall Street banks that is building from coast to coast. This video by Ernest Savage captures many of the actions and the struggle of homeowner Rose Gudiel.
The actions started last week in the Bay Area and they were relentless.
The group started the week by holding a vigil at a foreclosure auction, the symbolic site of the death of the American Dream. For one day, the auctioneers were stopped from selling homes to bidders. On Tuesday, a group of 100 people greeted high-level bank executives, including Janet Lamkin of Bank of America and Perry Pelos of Wells Fargo at an event of the business-backed Bay Area Council at AT&T Park, the home of the San Francisco Giants. Our group sent the message that we want to “Stay at Home” with ACCE member Annie McKenzie leading the crowd in song, singing “shame, shame, shame.”
Then they picked up 15 bags of garbage from a foreclosed home in East Oakland and took it directly to JPMorgan Chase and Citibank in the Fruitvale district. They demanded the banks send a letter to the headquarters and left the trash bags at their doorsteps to symbolically show the blight that they are bringing to the community through foreclosures.
Just as protests in New York began to escalate, nearly 1000 people gathered at Bank of America and took to the streets visiting a number of banks before ending up at Charles Schwab and Wells Fargo. During the march a group of six people took over the lobby of Chase Bank. Led by Brenda Reed, an Oakland homeowner for 38 years facing a foreclosure auction on the Monday before Thanksgiving, the six demanded that Chase work with Ms. Reed to modify her loan so she can stay in the house that has been her home for decades. A Vietnam War widow, Reed was the victim of predatory lending practices of now-defunct Washington Mutual. The six were arrested and released, but Reed was able to tell her story to the local media including the SF Bay Guardian, NBC Bay Area and KRON 4.
This week the action moved to L.A. as protests continued to sprout up around the country. At Monday's teach-in inside the JPMorgan Chase Branch, over 100 teachers and students taught Chase bankers how the Wall Street Banks crashed the economy. The next day over 100 people from the ReFund California campaign crashed the upscale meeting of the California Bankers Association in Orange County. The group forced its way through the doors, took the stage at the event and told the bankers that “it’s time for them to pay.”
In Los Angeles, it is Rose Gudiel’s struggle that has particularly galvanized the Re-Fund California coalition. Rose fell behind a few weeks on her payments after her brother was shot and killed. Her bank, OneWest refused to accept and payment and a rollercoaster of paperwork, bureaucracy and denial followed. Rose has the income to pay if OneWest and Fannie Mae would cooperate, but they refuse. So last week she announced that she is is fighting her eviction by refusing to leave her home. She has been joined over the last week by family, neighbors and supporters ready to resist efforts by by the LA County Sheriff’s Department to carry out the eviction.
But rather than wait, Rose and 100 people took action: they marched up the hill (watch video) to visit the $26 million Bel-Air home of OneWest Chairman and profiteer Steve Mnuchin to demand that he stop her eviction and then went to the office of Fannie Mae, brought a negotiating table into the lobby, only to be refused. It was then that Rose, her disabled mother and 7 others took a stand and were arrested (watch video).
The two weeks of action will culminate with over a thousand people marching through downtown LA.
Refund California campaign is a statewide coalition of homeowners, community members, faith leaders working to make Wall Street banks pay for destroying jobs and neighborhoods with their greedy, irresponsible and predatory business practices.
The goals of the campaign are to:
- Fix Housing to Fix the Economy Enact a widespread mortgage principal reduction program, creating 300,000 California jobs and injecting over $20 billion into the economy.
- Pay Fair Share Close property tax loopholes, increase taxes on top 1% and corporations, stop ripping off taxpayers with financial schemes like interest rate swaps
- Stop Destroying Neighborhoods Stop foreclosure blight, support small business lending and create jobs. Reinvest profits into putting people back to work and rebuilding our economy.
For more information on the campaign, visit www.makebankspaycalifornia.com