Occupy BloNo occupied Withers Park in downtown Bloomington all day Saturday, on Bank Transfer Day, beginning at 11 am with the Really, Really Free Market providing free goods in front of PNC bank.
The provision of free, useful goods to BloNo residents contrasted with PNC’s crass, destructive profit-making at the expense of the community. PNC was responsible for the most foreclosures in 2008 of any bank in Bloomington-Normal.
Occupy participants planned on staying the day and evening at the location, which was visible to car traffic on East Street.
At 12:15, most of the Occupy BloNo contingent headed to the Washington Street branch of Chase Bank, joined by about 20 members of Illinois People’s Action.
Chase Bank Occupation
Occupy BloNo and Illinois People’s Action (IPA) entered the Chase Bank outlet and held a lively rally for about 15 minutes.
Once inside, IPA displayed a golden calf with a sign that read, “Chase Worships False Idols,” and IPA participants carried signs protesting payday lending. Chase Bank is one of many banks loaning to payday lenders, secretly profiting off the predatory lending of loans sharks charging 400% interest in our communities.
In a rally inside the bank, Sonny Garcia revealed why Chase was the target of the action, condemning Chase for having taken $100 billion of taxpayer money and then refusing to refinance peoples’ mortgages.
Chase has foreclosed on more homes than any other bank in the country, has a terrible record on loan modifications, and has been involved in fraudulent foreclosures and overcharging.
Chase also has 50 overseas tax havens to avoid paying their fair share. Sonny Garcia encouraged people to drop their accounts at Chase and open new accounts at a local credit union.
Virginia Holwell Speaks Out Against Chase
As part of the rally inside the bank, Virginia Holwell of Peoria Heights spoke of Chase Bank’s refusal to modify her loan so that she may keep her home. Mrs. Holwell lost her job after having worked for the state for 30 years, and in that time, has never been late on her mortgage payments. When Mrs. Holwell attempted to seek a modification to her loan, Chase Bank lost her paperwork 5 times, advised her not to seek help from third parties, and then told her to liquidate the property.
This year, Virgina Holwell traveled with Illinois People’s Action to the Chase Bank shareholder meeting, presented her case to the entire body, and was publicly told by Chase executives that she would receive help with a loan modification. Of course, that was a lie.
Rally Outside the Bank
Inside the bank, the bank manager explained that the cops were called. Don Carlson of Illinois People’s Action explained some options to the group, after which point it was decided to take the rally outside. When the policeman arrive at the scene, he asked the group to keep the protest to the sidewalk, prefacing his request by saying, “God knows, I appreciate your efforts here.”
Occupy BloNo and Illinois People’s Action held a short rally program in front of the bank, including a retelling of the biblical story behind the Golden Calf and a reading of the People’s Declaration of the New York Occupation.
Demonstrating at Withers Park
After the rally outside Chase Bank, Occupy BloNo returned to Withers Park around 1 pm, where people talked, socialized in the park, and demonstrated with signs along East Street.
Occupy BloNo’s next event is a film and discussion, on Monday, November 7th, 6:30 pm at the Normal Public Library Community Room. “Inside Job” will be screened, followed by a discussion.