“It’s a Tea Party bank”
By Brad Sigal
October 12, 2011
Minneapolis, MN – Around two hundred people marched from the OccupyMN People’s Plaza to nearby TCF Bank Tower, Oct. 11. Marchers chanted “The banks got bailed out, people got sold out!” and “ho ho hey hey, make the rich pay!” The march targeted TCF Bank because the locally-based bank tries to dominate Minnesota’s economy and politics with extreme pro-corporate policies.
As the protesters marched through downtown at rush hour, many passers-by honked and waved in support of the protest. When they arrived at TCF Tower, the protesters found the doors locked with security guards standing just inside even though the bank was supposed to still be open. After chanting loudly outside the locked doors, several speakers expressed outrage at TCF Bank’s ultra-conservative political agenda they try to impose on Minnesota.
Mick Kelly of the MN Coalition for a People’s Bailout said to the crowd, “TCF Bank is a Tea Party bank. That’s the truth.” He detailed some of TCF Bank CEO William Cooper’s history of anti-people and extreme pro-corporate actions, as well as other prominent people associated with TCF, such as former TCF executive vice president Peter Bell, who went on to head the Met Council and the U of M Board of Regents. At both of those institutions, Bell’s budget cutting and union-busting attempts provoked workers to go on strike.
Tood Dahlstrom of SEIU Local 26 spoke about the protest that Minnesotans for a Fair Economy led earlier in the day against Wells Fargo and US Bank, saying that TCF might have thought they’d gotten off the hook since they weren’t targeted earlier in the day, but this protest was bringing the anger to their doorstep too. Giving an example of TCF’s ultra-conservative politics, Sarah Martin of the Committee to Stop FBI Repression spoke about how TCF Bank froze the accounts of Chicago Palestinian activist Hatem Abudayyeh, even though he hasn’t been charged with any crime. Only after national public pressure did TCF give Abudayyeh his money back. Other speakers talked about how the banks are making record profits while most people are falling further and further behind in debt.
TCF Bank is a huge contributor to pro-corporate politicians and causes in Minnesota. In the 2010 elections, TCF Bank gave $250,000 to the State Fund for Economic Growth, LLC, which in turn gave the money to MN Forward to support far right wing pro-corporate politicians, and the Taxpayer’s League of Minnesota, which is dedicated to destroying any government program that benefits poor or working people.
The OccupyMN occupation has been going on since October 7 in the plaza in front of the Hennepin County Government Center, which the occupiers have renamed “People’s Plaza”. The occupation is part of a national movement of occupations inspired by Occupy Wall Street with a message of “people over profits.” The round-the-clock occupation is ongoing. Organizers are encouraging people to come out to People’s Plaza anytime, and there are rallies daily at 5:00 p.m.