Misplaced Rage Greets Community Bankers in Chicago
Pic credit: Any Syler
Listen, people, you have got to knock this shit off. You have people screaming "the Fed has never been audited!" pushing a Fed audit (it is audited, FYI, to some extent and if you are still unclear on this point, do get in touch and JDA will be happy to tell you alllllll about it) and now Grandmas storming Goldman Sachs over loan modifications. Just knock it off.
Rule #1 of civil unrest: If you are going to protest, know what in the hell it is you are protesting against.
Most of the protesters on the Chicago streets Monday appeared to be with a union and many of them were brought in on yellow school buses from across the Midwest. The message was one of ire at bank executives' large bonuses, bank foreclosures and predatory lending.
"I'm here basically for my grandchildren," said Peggy Sower Knoepfle, a protester who traveled in on a bus from Springfield, Ill., with National People's Action. "If we don't stop these foreclosures we're not going to have a country left."
Another protester, Garry Klicker, who is with the Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, took time away from harvesting his corn and soybeans in Bloomfield, Iowa, to voice his anger.
"This is not a financial system," he said. "This is a financial disaster."
Protesters carried effigies of bank executives, including John Stumpf, chief executive of Wells Fargo, and former Bank of America Chief Executive Ken Lewis. Some clutched "Wanted" signs bearing the faces of bank executives deemed "Wall Street Robber Banker[s]." They carried signs with slogans such as "No Bonuses for Big Banks" and chanted sayings like "Bust up big banks!"
The morning protests started at the Chicago offices of Goldman Sachs. A woman on a megaphone shouted, "We're here to tell Goldman Sachs, shame on you! Shame on you for helping bring this country to the brink of a depression!" The crowd, in turn, chanted "Shame on you!" An organizer yelled a list of demands for Goldman Sachs, including that the bank support calls for a consumer-finance protection agency and that it donate the money set aside for bonuses to loan-modification programs.
The group also asked to meet with Goldman's chairman and chief executive officer, Lloyd Blankfein "within the next 30 days." At one point the group tried to enter the Goldman Sachs lobby to hand-deliver a letter to Mr. Blankfein but was held back by police and security. Instead, a representative was sent down to pick up the letter. That person shook hands with some of the protesters.
A spokeswoman at Goldman Sachs said the bank's security office in Chicago had received a copy of the letter. She didn't comment further.
The group then marched down the street to the Chicago offices of Wells Fargo. There they also attempted to hand-deliver a letter to Mr. Stumpf, the Wells Fargo CEO. Officials at Wells Fargo couldn't immediately be reached for comment.
Around noon, the group boarded a fleet of yellow school buses that took them to the American Bankers Association convention.
At the convention, speeches by Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Chairman Sheila Bair and Comptroller of the Currency John Dugan weren't disrupted by the protests amid tight security.
Ms. Bair, who had earlier addressed protesters, told the audience of community bankers that there was still work to be done in assuaging public concerns over banks' policies on fees.
She drew applause when she said lax regulation of nonbank financial entities had been a "key gap that was exploited," pledging with Mr. Dugan to crack down on lenders that had cost traditional banks market share.
I love - LOVE - the idea of storming Goldman Sachs and demanding they take their bonuses and shove them directly up our broke asses but I think there's something missing in the execution of this particular protest. Why would Goldman be involved in loan modifications? They didn't even want TARP money. Trust me, there are plenty of other GS sins to pick from, just make sure they've actually done what you're accusing them of before you attack HQ with the flaming pitchforks, Grandma.
Community bankers should be just as pissed off as the unwashed masses at this point. They are the ones falling by the roadside on Bank Fail Friday - meanwhile Lord Bankfiend probably has his own fluff boy under his desk. Trust me, I get it.
Right rage, wrong targets.
Try again, America. You're so fucking close, just a few less episodes of Dancing with the Stars and I think you'll finally get it.