During the week of October 10-16, thousands of Minnesotans voiced their anger and frustration with the stalled American economy by engaging in 20 actions across the Twin Cities.
From vigils to town meetings to marches on big banks, their insistence that “We are the 99%” summed up their sense that despite hard work, their wages had declined, their job prospects dimmed and their homes were threatened with foreclosure, while the big banks and corporations grew richer.
The week peaked with a Rally and March on Friday that took over 6th & Marquette intersection in front of Wells Fargo Minnesota’s headquarters.
The March to Save the American Dream was organized by Minnesotans for a Fair Economy and: Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en Lucha (CTUL), the International Brotherhood of Electrician Workers Minnesota State Council (IBEW), ISAIAH, Jobs Now Coalition, Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation, Merriam Park Neighbors for Peace, Minnesota AFL-CIO, Minnesota Public Interest Research Group (MPIRG), Neighborhoods Organizing for Change (NOC), OccupyMN, Saint Paul Regional Labor Federation, Service Employees International Union (SEIU), TakeAction Minnesota, United Food & Commercial Workers Local (UFCW) 1189, and the Welfare Rights Committee.
The dramatic confrontation was one of many actions centered on the role big banks like Wells Fargo and US Bank had played in the meltdown of the economy beginning in 2007 and the foreclosure crisis that followed.
On Monday October 10, Neighborhoods Organizing for Change released a study that shows how the foreclosure crisis is directly responsible for draining $150 million from the Minneapolis Public Schools. From the Huffington Post to local television stations the report drew attention to the devastating effects of the foreclosure crisis.
The next day, the interfaith group ISAIAH released a report detailing how low-income neighborhoods and minority communities in St. Paul were hit harder by the foreclosure crisis than other areas. That evening, over 400 people gathered at the St. James Methodist Episcopal Church to voice their concerns with the housing crisis.
Both studies boosted the crowds that joined TakeAction Minnesota as Twin Cities marchers pointed finger at banks. Workday Minnesota reported:
Hundreds of people carrying giant red foam fingers like those waved by fans at football games marched through Minneapolis’s financial district Tuesday pointing the finger at big banks, corporations and financial institutions who have sent the U.S. economy into a near death spiral.
Their message? It’s time to make those that tanked our economy pay what they owe.
TakeAction wasn’t alone in pressing the banks to pay their fair share. A delegation visited Wells Fargo on Monday, October 10th, delivering a letter for CEO David Kvamme asking for a meeting. The delegation was supporting the claims of homeowners like Malcolm LeFever and Cheryl Downey, who are facing foreclosure.
The pressure began of have a small-scale impact. By Thursday, the City Pages reported that Under pressure, Wells Fargo may halt couple’s foreclosure.
The letters asked the bankers to agree to five basic points for a shared future:
Pay your fair share.
Fix the foreclosure crisis.
Practice fair lending.
Create jobs, not cuts.
Stand by all your customers—including immigrant communities.
The refusal of banksters to meet and discuss the shared vision for the future led to Friday’s march.
Other actions centered on jobs, including a bridge vigil on Monday, picketing on Wednesday by caregivers from Dellwood Place and Bethesda Care Center, both slated to close in November, and a visit to MNGOP headquarters on Thursday.
The protests didn’t stop with Friday’s march. On Saturday, SEIU Local 284 set up a classroom in a bank lobby, Schooling Wells Fargo on Putting People before Profits. City Pages covered an action by SEIU Local 26 and immigrant rights activists, while the Huffington Post reported that Immigrants To Wells Fargo: Stop Investing In For-Profit Detention.
The week closed with a street festival by MFE partner CTUL.
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