“If no one goes to jail, he’s a fake and a fraud”—Matt Taibbi, during the #F29 “Shutdown the Corporations” gathering at Bryant Park, in response to what he thinks of Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s investigation.
Last month, around fifty protesters marched from Zuccotti Park to 120 Broadway, where New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office is located. Along the way, the activists, most of them from the “Foreclose the Banks” group within Occupy Wall Street, chanted the following radical sentiment:
“How can we help? How can we help? How can we help?”
After Schneiderman was charged with investigating the pandemic of fraud and corruption on Wall Street post-bubble burst—he chairs President Obama’s task force—and while millions of Americans were being kicked out of their homes, he told The American Prospect, “I need everyone out there to help us make this investigation as strong and thorough as it needs to be.”
This protest was Occupy stepping up to volunteer.
Truthout’s Jesse Myerson reported on what happened next.
Fourteen petitioners, mostly dressed in business attire, sat in a circle on the floor and said they would leave only when granted an agreement from the AG’s office for a public forum on the task force.
“What are the obstacles?” Han Shan raised as one question to be addressed at the proposed forum. “And why is it under-staffed?” Deliberations in the group brought about consensus that they would not set a time limit for the forum. One person had suggested 30 days, while another worried that this would be unreasonable and proposed a more generous 90-day window.
In the middle of negotiations with the AG’s office, the building manager appeared and read a prepared statement, instructing the protesters to vacate the premises immediately or risk arrest.
Four activists: Brett Goldberg, Daniel Scott, Henry Harris and Jordan Stern, volunteered for arrest rather than abandon negotiations.
Now, this same group, along with Campaign for a Fair Settlement, plans to continue placing pressure on the Obama administration to support investigating and prosecuting Wall Street for its crimes.
Foreclose the Banks will meet this evening (6–9 pm) at Bryant Park to coincide with an Obama fundraiser.
“This is our attempt to continue to put the pressure on the Obama administration to actually deliver on their promise of the Mortgage Fraud Task Force, which was formed early this year with the promise of holding accountable those who brought down the global economy,” says Alexis Goldstein, a former Wall Street firm employee.
Goldstein says the coalition wishes to draw attention to the fact that the task force doesn’t even have the $55 million it was promised to prosecute the crimes of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.
Meanwhile, “Obama is raising hundreds of millions for his re-election campaign,” says Goldstein.
Protesters insist the president could throw his weight behind real, meaningful actions that could help homeowners.
For example, the coalitions implores Obama to more aggressively staff and support the mortgage crisis commission, push for criminal indictments (and not just civil judgments), fire Federal Housing Finance Agency head Ed Demarco for his “unwillingness to grant principal reduction measures to Fannie & Freddie Homeowners,” and stand with America’s 11 million underwater homeowners while exploring additional measures needed to rejuvenate the housing market.
“Years after systemic wrongdoing by Wall Street destroyed America’s housing market, not a single major bank or executive has been prosecuted or held accountable,” said Nish Suvarnakar of the Campaign for a Fair Settlement. “The president has refused to dismiss the head of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, who stands in the way of assistance for millions of Americans. It’s time the president stood up for Main Street and homeowners—that’s why we’re joining F-the Banks and turning out on Monday.”