October 21, 2011
Minneapolis, MN – Seven people were arrested as over 100 people from OccupyMN protested outside of U.S. Bank Plaza, Oct. 20. The seven arrested set up tents outside the bank and blocked traffic at a major downtown intersection. The protest highlighted the hypocrisy of big banks foreclosing people’s homes while U.S. Bank’s bosses’ pay doubled over the past year and the bank rakes in record profits.
A statement from OccupyMN noted that by setting up tents outside of a major financial power, they hoped to call attention to the ongoing foreclosure crisis and support those who have lost their homes to the corrupt economic policies of the 1%.
U.S. Bank’s CEO Richard Davis saw his pay more than double – to $18.8 million this year according to BizJournals.com – as most Minnesotans struggle to make ends meet. There have been more than 25,000 home foreclosures in Minnesota in 2010 alone. Meanwhile the bankers responsible for the financial crisis have yet to be held accountable. U.S. Bancorp reported a record $1.273 billion in profit last quarter. Davis is also the ‘Immediate-Past Chairman’ of the Financial Services Roundtable, the leading federal lobbying organization for big banks and finance.
Protester Steve Fletcher said, “The banks use the sheriff’s office to evict people from foreclosed homes. Our government has a choice to make about whether it’s going to represent us or whether it’s going to represent the banks.”
“The corruption of Wall Street and the big banks is responsible for our country’s economic recession and the foreclosure crisis,” said Alexa Lindh of OccupyMN. “OccupyMN stands in solidarity with foreclosure victims. We want our houses back.”
Kim DeFranco, a participant in OccupyMN and the Minnesota Coalition for a People’s Bailout said, “We are here today to say the people need to be bailed out, not the banks or corporations. The banks should not be throwing people out of their homes during this economic crisis. We demand an end to all foreclosures now!”
OccupyMN, part of the growing Occupy Wall Street movement, has been occupying People’s Plaza, which is right next to U.S. Bank Plaza, since Oct. 7. U.S. Bank officials knew they’d be targeted for protests, so they set up barricades around their building’s plaza to keep protesters out. But that didn’t stop the demonstrators. They marched across the street from People’s Plaza to protest U.S. Bank.
The group marched around the U.S. Bank Plaza to spread their message. Many people honked and showed their support as they passed the protesters.
While the protest was going on outside the building, another group of protesters were doing an action inside the bank. They reportedly planned to set up a tent inside the U.S. Bank branch highlighting the people who have lost their homes due to foreclosures. When they were ejected from the building before getting their tents set up inside, they joined the demonstration outside. They then took over the intersection outside of U.S. Bank Plaza, setting up their tents in the street and bringing traffic to a standstill.
The clear plastic tents had “stop foreclosure now” painted on the side. People in the streets and inside the building could see the message clearly.
After blocking the intersection for a significant amount of time, the police arrested seven people and removed the tents. The group was successful in bringing media attention to the greedy bankers and corporations making a killing from all the homes they have foreclosed on, thrusting OccupyMN’s message of “people over profits” back to the center of attention of Minnesota’s media.
OccupyMN will complete its second week of occupying People’s Plaza with a rally and concert at 5:00 p.m. on Oct. 21. At least two more protest actions targeting multinational banks are planned for the coming week, including a mass action of people closing their accounts at a major bank and a protest marking the anniversary of the ‘Black Tuesday’ stock market crash on Oct. 29, 1929 that began the Great Depression. Information will be available about these actions at OccupyMN.org.