Monday, October 06, 2008

National Demonstrations Against the Taxpayer Bailout of Wall Street: Detroit, NYC, Boston, Philadelphia, etc.

Emergency protest builds for organizers’ conference in Michigan

By Kris Hamel
Published Oct 4, 2008 10:26 PM

Activists with the Moratorium NOW! Coalition to Stop Foreclosures and Evictions called an emergency demonstration in downtown Detroit on Sept. 25 to protest the trillion-dollar bailout of the financial industry and demand an immediate moratorium on home foreclosures nationwide.

Some 50 protesters gathered at the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center and marched through the financial district with banners and signs declaring, “Bailout the people, not the banks!” Protesters stopped and rallied outside Comerica, National City and Charter One banks, all of which participated in the subprime mortgage fiasco perpetrated on workers and the poor in Michigan and throughout the U.S.

Detroit City Councilperson JoAnn Watson told the demonstrators: “The banks are getting bailed out. The auto companies want a $50 billion federal loan to help them regain market share. What about us? What we need is a bailout for Detroit, for the people!”

Protesters chanted, “The people need jobs and relief—not one more penny for Wall Street!” and “Stop foreclosures and evictions—moratorium now!” During the protest, motorists honked their horns continually and raised their fists in support of the demand to bailout the victims of the financial crisis, not the bankers who caused it.

The demonstration was covered widely on local media, including CBS-affiliate WWJ news radio, the Detroit Free Press, Fox affiliate TV2 and ABC affiliate channel 7. On Sept. 26 the Free Press reported that many Congressional representatives from Michigan have been flooded with calls and emails against the bank bailout.

Coalition organizers Vanessa Fluker and Abayomi Azikiwe spoke at a rally of the Gray Panthers during their national conference in Detroit on Sept. 27.

At a coalition meeting Sept. 27, plans were made to continue the struggle in Michigan, including a statewide organizers’ conference after the November elections.

Coalition activists plan to meet with Detroit Mayor Kenneth Cockrel Jr. to request that he declare a state of emergency in the city and formally apply to Gov. Jennifer Granholm for a foreclosure moratorium.

The next meeting of the Moratorium NOW! Coalition will be on Oct. 11 at the Central United Methodist Church, 23 E. Adams, 4th floor, Detroit, MI 48226. For more information or to send a donation, call 313-887-4344, email, or visit
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NYC Central Labor Council takes on Wall St.

By Mary Owen and G. Dunkel
New York
Published Oct 1, 2008 4:33 PM

Responding to the rising anger of its members, the New York City Central Labor Council held an emergency demonstration Sept. 25 near the Wall St. stock exchange to protest the anti-worker bailout bill that appeared to be sailing through Congress.

With scarcely two days’ notice, more than 1,500 people showed up for the lunch-hour rally, which drew both national and international attention in the midst of hundreds of anti-bailout protests. For the U.S. labor movement to act quickly on a political issue is very unusual.

A number of Wall St. workers listened from the sidewalk. A sizable number of construction workers from lower Manhattan projects extended their lunch break in order to attend.

“We can’t afford any more mistakes from this administration,” AFL-CIO President John Sweeney told the crowd. “We must put working families first in line.”

Most of the speakers were leaders of the major unions that attended: United Federation of Teachers; District Council 37 of the State, County and Municipal Employees; building trades; airline machinists; Professional Staff Congress-City University of New York; and transit workers. The crowd responded to those who were the most militant against the bankers.

A Machinists union vice-president spoke from his members’ experience: “Congress negotiates like shit. ... They negotiated with the airlines and gave them buyouts. And you know what was in it for the workers? Zero. They cut our pensions and salaries. Well, we’ve heard enough, and we’ve paid enough, and we can’t take it anymore. There’s no money for health care, but trillions for a bailout? With Congress negotiating? If they can’t do it, we’ll kick them out like the CEOs.” This was met with loud cheers from the crowd.

Department Store Local 338 President John Durso went on similarly: “What about pensions, schools, health care and infrastructure? Where’s the money for that? These guys run companies down, then get golden parachutes. What about your mortgage? There has to be oversight and the union movement must stand up for working people. Look to your left, look to your right. ... That’s who will be standing up for you, not the guys down the block or in Washington.”

Barbara Bowen, president of PSC-CUNY, American Federation of Teachers Local 2334, drew parallels between the administration’s rush to demand authority over $700 billion and their rush, five years ago, for authority to invade Iraq. “Yes, they should solve the problem—but not on our backs!” The CUNY higher education system is facing deep budget cuts, which will mean layoffs and speed-ups.

Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now speaker Bertha Lewis got one of the loudest responses when she said, “If they don’t give us a bail out for Main Street, they will be shocked when we shut this country down!” The crowd roared its approval.

While the leaders who spoke did not make a point of calling for support for presidential candidate Barack Obama, the rally ended with a call to do so, which also got very loud cheers.

Some of the hand-made signs were sharper than the speeches. An ironworker’s sign read, “No golden parachutes—lead boots.” “No blank check for Wall Street” was popular.

One sign summed up the mood: “Let me get this straight: $700 billion for Wall St.; $700 billion for Iraq War; No money for health care, schools, housing, CUNY, subways.”
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Bailout plans spark nationwide protests

By Betsey Piette
Published Oct 1, 2008 3:55 PM

In the week since Bush announced plans to use $700 billion in public funds to rescue Wall Street banks, nearly 200 demonstrations have been organized throughout the U.S. to oppose the bailout and express the righteous anger of workers and poor. Many were organized by grassroots groups taking advantage of the Internet to get the word out.

In addition, tens of thousands of protest e-mail messages have been sent to Congress members, many demanding that any taxpayer funds go instead to assist homeowners facing foreclosures or to provide assistance to the millions unemployed. Opinion polls reported opposition to the bailout running at more than 85 percent.

Some protests involved anti-war activists who characterized the current economic crisis as a war against the workers at home and linked it to the $2 trillion already spent on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and threats of new war against Iran.

The mood was angry and militant in Baltimore, Md., where more than 200 people came out on a day’s notice for a rally at the Federal Reserve Bank organized by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and the AFL-CIO Central Labor Council.

As congressional leaders negotiated with the Bush administration in Washington, D.C., 150 homeless advocates and community activists protested the city’s effort to shut down the Franklin School homeless shelter—the kind of program that will get the ax if the bailout goes through. Speakers made the connection between the city’s plan to close a facility that now houses people who lost homes through mortgage foreclosures, and the twisted priorities of a system that volunteers taxpayers’ money to Wall Street millionaires.

Chanting “Main Street first” and carrying signs and colorful umbrellas, a few hundred protesters also marched in front of the White House in the rain to demand the rejection of Treasury Secretary Paulson’s Wall Street bailout plan.

About 20 people gathered on a busy intersection in Tucson, Ariz., holding signs demanding “Foreclose the war—not our homes!” and “No to endless war and banker bailouts!” The protesters were met with enthusiastic responses of raised fists, victory signs and horn honks of approval. Drivers rolled down their windows to take leaflets. The linking of the war drive with the attacks on workers seemed to resonate with everyone.

NAU Peace and Justice in Flagstaff, Ariz., held a march and rally of about 110 people to address the imminent war with Iran and to express opposition to the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Outside the federal building in Philadelphia, several youth from Students for a Democratic Society and Fight Imperialism, Stand Together joined other anti-war and union activists to voice opposition to the bailout and the war spending. FIST members Tyneisha Bowens and Miya X led chants and talked about what the bailout will cost in terms of program cuts, jobs lost and the heavy impact on women and people of color. SDS members Alex Grosskurgh and Jeff Rousset called on the government to bail out youth unable to pay off student loans.

Protest signs included cardboard $700,000,000,000 checks depicting the money Bush wants workers to give over to rich bankers. Among those who stopped to sign a petition to stop the bankers’ bailout were a woman who faced foreclosure on her home of 17 years and a homeless Vietnam veteran. Several bus drivers honked their horns in support and opened their doors to get fliers. Two busloads of teenagers passing by all gave the fist and thumbs-up signs to the demonstration.

In Detroit, City Council President Monica Conyers and Councilmember JoAnn Watson held a joint press conference under the theme, “No bailout for banks and CEOs without bailout assistance for homeowners.” Earlier in the week, the Detroit City Council passed a resolution demanding Congress bail out victims of the housing and mortgage crisis by enacting a two-year moratorium on home foreclosures.

In Seattle, several dozen people protested at the federal building while others gathered at the headquarters of Washington Mutual, the savings and loan seized late last week by the government and sold off to JP Morgan Chase.
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BOSTON: Eviction blockaders fight back

By Gerry Scoppettuolo
Published Oct 2, 2008 9:10 PM

Foreclosure fighters took on Deutsche Bank Sept 25 in Boston, in the latest eviction blockade organized by the City Life Tenant Organizing Program and its supporters. Four protesters were arrested, including this writer, while trying to prevent the Boston police and a constable from evicting the Esquival family in Boston’s Roslindale neighborhood.

While eviction blockaders were detained by the police here once before, this was the first time activists were arrested, booked and arraigned by the District Attorney.

The family proudly maintained its dignified stance while supporters stood around them on the street. Three television stations and the Boston Globe recorded the obscene actions of the police, the banks and Mayor Thomas Menino, who allowed the police to occupy the Esquivals’ property before the arrival of the constable—a first in 10 eviction blockades this year.

At the time, the Esquivals were still the legal tenants and the family was in Boston Housing Court seeking a restraining order against the eviction. This escalation of tactics by the city of Boston signals a hardening of bourgeois opposition in the face of City Life’s mostly successful strategy of using militant eviction blockades to force banks to negotiate foreclosures.

As the government’s Wall Street bailout neared passage, it became clear that soon the new owners of the Esquivals’ mortgage would likely be the federal government, as it restores credit to wealthy banks like Deutsche Bank while families like the Esquivals get thrown out. Stockholders in these bailed-out banks stand to see the value of their holdings increase.

Recent reports about the government bailout disclose that there will be no real help for foreclosed homeowners, just letters from the Federal Reserve to banks “encouraging” them to loosen their lending terms (Wall Street Journal, Sept. 29).

Three days after the eviction, Boston’s International Action Center and the Women’s Fightback Network pushed ahead with its State of Emergency Petition Campaign, demanding that Gov. Deval Patrick issue an emergency order halting further evictions and foreclosures and rolling back and freezing food and fuel prices.

Activists handed out flyers and gathered signatures on the campaign at a “Food and Fuel Summit” sponsored by the mayor at Madison Park High School, in the oppressed community of Roxbury. Those coming for assistance against skyrocketing food and fuel prices eagerly signed the petition, agreeing the government should bail out the people rather than the banks. The action was coordinated with actions in many cities

For more information on the WFN and IAC Economic State of Emergency Campaign, go to, or contact or
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