The annual American Bankers Association meeting in Chicago is not going as planned.
Besieged by activists from the Service Employees International Union, the AFL-CIO and Americans for Financial Reform, the leaders of America’s financial sector were interrupted Sunday night as a throng of protesters poured into the conference area and began to chant.
The meeting, scheduled to continue through Tuesday, will feature “[exceptional] speakers like FDIC Chairman Sheila Bair, Comptroller of the Currency John Dugan, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, and political commentator George Will,” the ABA’s site announced.
“All we wanted to do was deliver a letter to the Wall Street bankers to let them know how much they’ve hurt our communities – and what they need to do to clean up their act,” the SEIU’s blog declared. “They wouldn’t listen to us. They kicked us out. But, the bad news for them is that we’ll be back. We’re not going to leave after tonight. In fact, more and more people are coming to Chicago in the next 48 hours. What started as a thousand people tonight will continue to grow up until Tuesday when more than 5,000 taxpayers march on the ABA and demand an end to Wall Street greed.”
Instead of delivering a letter, they shouted their message. “Bust up big banks!” activists chanted. When police confronted a senior who was damning the ABA over a loudspeaker, the crowd shifted into cries of “Shame on you! Shame on you!”
When police finally got around to pushing them out, cheers of “We’ll be back” shook the hotel’s lobby.
“Our demand is simple: stop taking our tax dollars and squandering them away on billion dollar bonuses and massive lobbying campaigns against financial reform,” the SEIU said.
Groups participating in the ABA protest this year are calling the action “the showdown in Chicago” and posting regular updates to a Web site dedicated to the action.
Speaking to protesters earlier in the night, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) advocated for greater regulation of America’s banks “to ensure that the robber barons that are responsible for this recession don’t get away with creating it and then declaring themselves a dividend,” according to Bloomberg.
Video of Durbin’s speech is available on the Huffington Post.
This video was published to YouTube by user ABA Showdown on Oct. 25, 2009.