Exclusive: ‘Make Wall St. Pay’ campaign debuts by occupying bank branch, House speaker’s office

By Stephen C. Webster
Monday, March 7, 2011 14:43 EDT
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A new campaign by a national network of activists kicked off Monday morning with a splash as it led hundreds of fed up homeowners in a series of protests that brought business to a halt at a major bank and the House speaker’s office.

The National People’s Action network picked Monday to launch the “Make Wall Street Pay” campaign thanks to another show in town: the National Association of Attorneys General’s Convention in Washington, D.C.

But they didn’t stop there.

Moving from the meeting of all 50 Attorneys General, the crowd made their way to a Bank of America branch on Pennsylvania Ave. While about 300 stood outside, another 300 moved indoors, filling up the lobby and bringing business to a standstill.

Then, they went to see if Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) was available, filing into his Capitol Hill offices to send an unambiguous message: Wall Street must pay.

“They delivered the message that we have a revenue crisis and that Wall Street must pay its fair share,” George Goehl, executive director of National People’s Action, told Raw Story in an exclusive interview.

“Attorneys General from all 50 states have launched an investigation into annual foreclosure fraud,” he continued. “American homeowners need this opportunity to save people’s homes, so people have been organizing all across the country, really heavily in about 15 states, to put pressure on AGs to get them to push for strong settlements on this stuff. That means principle reductions on mortgages and criminal penalties for bankers that are breaking the law.”

Activists inside the bank presented tellers with their own past-due notice, chanting for them to “pay your bills.”

In a report issued by National People’s Action and the non-profit corporate watchdog group Public Accountability Initiative, banks are blasted for using tax loopholes to avoid paying into public revenue coffers.

That’s all due to a “revenue problem” and not an entitlement or deficit problem, the protesters insist.

There were no arrests, Goehl added.

The group’s website encourages visitors to calculate the income they’ve lost since the onset of America’s financial crisis in 2008, then send their own bill to their representatives in Washington. They also call upon activists of similar economic status to launch their own “Make Wall Street Pay” efforts.

This video was published to YouTube on Monday, March 7, 2011.

Image: Courtesy photo, National People’s Action.

Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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