Homeowner group protests 'predator' CEOs outside their mansions
If these activists are as dedicated as they are desperate, expect this to become a trend.
Monday, a group of 350 to 400 at-risk homeowners, organized by the Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America, staged a series of protests outside the mansions of wealthy bankers in a moneyed Connecticut neighborhood.
"Called the 'Predators Tour' these actions were the start of NACA's 'accountability campaign,' an aggressive, confrontational protest aimed at several top executives of companies that refuse to allow NACA to renegotiate the terms of loans on behalf of members, according to NACA CEO Bruce Marks," reported the Stamford Times.
"Sporting bright yellow shirts that read, 'Stop Loan Sharks,' protesters demanded more accountability from the CEOs of the financial institutions responsible for the millions of unaffordable mortgages in the state and across America," reported NBC New York in an article titled, "Grab Your Torch and Pitchfork."
Protesters also gathered outside the mansions of William Frey, the CEO at Greenwich Financial Services, and John Mack, CEO of Morgan Stanley.
"The move was part of the nonprofit group's national accountability campaign to get company executives to support refinancing loans to keep people in their homes, according to Liz Floyd, one of the organizers and a counselor with the group," reported the Stamford Advocate. "... [The] group believes the executives contributed to the subprime mortgage crisis."
"During the protest, organizers shouted through bullhorns and carried signs in the middle of the road for more than an hour, prompting the police to shut down a portion of Glenville Road, according to Lt. James Heavey," reported the Greenwich Times.
None of the protesters were arrested, but "more than 100 signs" were left on the front gate of Frey's mansion. Lt. Heavey told the Greenwich Times that Frey was not home, and he had not returned a call from the Associated Press at deadline.
"Frey was targeted, Marks explained, because he has filed a class-action lawsuit against Bank of America on behalf of two of the bank's major investors alleging that the bank violated contractual law when it moved to modify hundreds of mortgages to make them more affordable," continued reporter Amanda Norris.
"Marks said that despite the risk and controversy involved in confronting millionaire money brokers on their own turf, NACA's tactics were the only effective means of exerting pressure on an otherwise uncaring and oblivious elite."
The protests were just one portion of a three-day homeowners workshop put on by the NACA.
The organization is setting up a "financial predators registry" of executives who did not cooperate with the group. On its Web site, CEOs of institutions such as National City, HSBC, Nation Star, HomeQ, Litton and others are prominently displayed, along with links to photos and valuations of their homes and their direct phone numbers.
"'No one has ever gone in such huge numbers to these guys' homes,' Marks continued. 'If they don't do the right thing, we'll be back. We are the junkyard dogs. Once we grab on, we will not let go.'"
The group's Web site explains: "Some lenders, such as Bank of America and Citigroup, have sought out NACA as a valuable partner in reaching underserved communities and have achieved great success. When lenders have exploited low- and moderate-income and minority communities, as in the case of Fleet or The Associates, NACA proved to be a tireless foe.
"... Corporations prefer to hide behind a veil of anonymity, but in reality they are run by people who make decisions and are responsible for the consequences. NACA shines a spotlight on the CEOs, executives and directors who perpetrate financial injustice. NACA ensures that their neighbors, relatives and employees are made aware of their actions. In addition, NACA holds the decision-makers accountable to the public everywhere they go. NACA’s hundreds of thousands of members across the country may appear at and disrupt their speeches, events, and meetings. Backed by extensive research, NACA and its members deliver a compelling wake-up call to decision makers everywhere, letting them know that they will be held personally accountable for their actions."
"Morgan Stanley said its mortgage servicing business 'actively collaborates' with NACA to structure solutions for qualified borrowers so they can remain in their homes," reported the AP. "A proposed agreement by NACA was delivered Saturday afternoon.
"'We are reviewing it now and expect to come to mutually agreeable terms,' Morgan Stanley said in a statement."