Friday, April 03, 2009

Bailout the People Movement Marches on Wall Street

Activists protest bailouts near Wall Street

Fri Apr 3, 2009 7:12pm EDT
By Christine Kearney

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Several hundred demonstrators protested near Wall Street on Friday against the handling of the U.S. economic crisis, government bailouts of private banks and corporations and bonuses paid out at insurer AIG.

Members of worker rights, healthcare and anti-war groups gathered in the rain holding posters that read "Bail Out the Unemployed" and "No More $ For Wall St & War."

They also shouted demands for more jobs.

"This crisis is growing more dire everyday with so many people being kicked out of their home and jobs," said Dustin Langley, a spokesman for the 'Bail Out The People Movement', the main protest organizer that called for a moratorium on U.S. home foreclosures and the creation of a national jobs program.

Hundreds of protesters lined up on Broadway to march past the headquarters of American International Group and close to the New York Stock Exchange and financial giants Bank of America, Chase and American Express, but were not permitted on Wall Street.

The rally was held as the rate of unemployment in the United States soared to 8.5 percent, the highest in 25 years, after employers cut 663,000 jobs in March.

Michael Feinberg, 51, a rabbi who runs a nonprofit workers rights group, held a sign that read 'Regulate The Profiteers,' and argued that corporations who helped plunge the economy into recession should not have received bailout money.

"That money should have been used to put people to work, to create jobs and healthcare, not to reward greedy financial speculators," he said. "This has to be a wake-up call that we have to change our national priorities about the way we do business in this country."

Friday's protest follows hundreds of others held around the United States since the bailout of investment banks began last year. Another demonstration is planned for Saturday in New York by the same group.

"These bankers ought to be jailed," said David Sole, 60, a chemist who traveled from Detroit to express his anger over the bailouts granted as the U.S. economy continues to slump.

With tears in his eyes, Sole decried the high number of home foreclosures and job losses suffered by his neighbors in Michigan. "It's unbelievable this would have happened in my lifetime. It's like we are in the 1930s," he said.

(Reporting by Christine Kearney, editing by Michelle Nichols and Anthony Boadle)

Hundreds Rally on Wall St., Demanding Action to Combat Economic Crisis

By Alex Kane
April 3, 2009

Channeling widespread populist anger at seemingly never ending bank bailouts and excessive executive compensation, hundreds of demonstrators converged on Wall St. this afternoon for a rally and march through the financial district, even as a steady rain continued throughout the day.

Organized by the Bail Out the People Movement (BOPM), protesters held signs and posters reading “Bail Out the Unemployed,” and “King’s Dream: A Job or Income For All,” in reference to the 41st anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination, which will be commemorated tomorrow by a United for Peace and Justice march that targets the culprits of the financial crisis as well. The UFPJ march is calling for cuts in military spending to address the economic crisis.

“It’s wrong that working people are being kicked out of their homes and are losing their jobs, while the rich get bailed out. It’s disgusting. It’s creating a depression, a worldwide depression,” said Jeremy Radabaugh, of BOPM and a former organizer for the United Electrical Workers, the union that organized the Chicago factory occupation at Republic Windows and Doors last December.

Demonstrators came from around the country, including Baltimore, Seattle, Philadelphia and Buffalo.

BOPM used the protest to demand numerous measures to combat the economic crisis, including a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures, an end to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, the passage of the Employee Free Choice Act and more.

Underscoring the urgency for action to combat the economic crisis, the protest came on a day when newly released unemployment figures showed that over 660,000 jobs were lost in March, increasing the official unemployment rate to 8.5 percent. The actual rate of unemployment is much higher, as the federal government’s numbers do not include people who have given up searching for jobs or part-time workers who would much rather work full-time.

Early on during the rally, the NYPD arrested four protesters who reportedly were walking down the middle of Broadway. A statement in response to the arrests on read, “The real criminals are in the boardrooms and executive offices on Wall Street, not the people marching for jobs, health care, and a moratorium on foreclosures.”

“I don’t think it’s fair that we bail out billionaires but we don’t help the working people. And I’m somebody that lost their job, so I’m really affected by this,” said Tsehai Hiwot, an activist with World Can’t Wait and the International Action Center, as she was holding up a long banner that read, “International Working Women’s Day ’09 Coalition.” She continued, saying, “Why do I have to pay my taxes [that go] into the pockets of people that made greedy investments?”

After a long slew of speakers from various organizations, including anti-war and health care advocates, protesters started marching down Pine St., chanting, “Bail out the people, not the banks,” as NYPD officers on motorcycle followed.

The marchers stopped in front of the offices of the American International Group (AIG), the insurance behemoth that has earned the scorn of millions of Americans for paying executives exorbitant amount of bonuses while the federal government pumps bailout money into AIG. AIG’s Financial Products division is a main culprit in the financial crisis, due to its dealings with credit default swaps.

With beefed up police presence blocking the entrance of the AIG building, demonstrators shouted, “AIG has got to go,” and “Jail them, don’t bail them.”

“[This action is] directed at the bosses of the government, who are down here on Wall Street,” said Dustin Langley, media coordinator for BOPM. “Since our government doesn’t listen, we sometimes have to go over their heads and straight to management. So we’re talking to their managers now: AIG, CitiGroup, Bank of America, and Bear Stearns.”

The marchers also made stops in front of Bank of America offices, chanting, “Bank of America, give back our homes,” and shouting epithets at the onlookers inside the building.

The demonstration winded down late in the afternoon, and ended with speakers at Foley Sq., near Chinatown.

At mention of the recent protests surrounding the G-20 summit meeting that concluded yesterday, the crowd broke out in applause. “They’ll know that anger is on this side of the ocean,” said Larry Holmes, an organizer with BOPM.

“The banks don’t look out for the interest of the people. They look out for themselves,” said Brandon King of the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement. “And the government is in cahoots with the banks, using our money, our taxpayer money, to bail out the banks when they have big bonuses like AIG did. There’s mad homeless people on the street, and there’s also massive loss of jobs. People need a bailout, banks don’t need that shit.”

Sarah Secunda contributed reporting for this article.

NYC protesters urge government to bail out people, not banks

NEW YORK, April 3 (Xinhua) -- Braving heavy and steady rains, hundreds of angry New Yorkers on Friday protested against the bailout of Wall Street and banks, urging the U.S. government to care more about the people who need jobs and medical care.

"We are very, very upset because so many Americans have lost their jobs, but the government seems only to care about Wall Street and AIG (American International Group) and sort of things," said Gavrille Gemma with the Bail Out The People Movement, which, together with other organizations, staged the protest in Wall Street.

Dubbed "The March on Wall Street: Bail Out The People Not The Banks," the protest attracted huge crowds of on-lookers although it was raining steadily almost the whole afternoon.

Many protesters criticized the capitalist system, which they said helped AIG and other companies "steal" money from "poor Americans." This was clearly reflected by the words on such banners which say "Capitalism is Dead" and "Go to the Hell, Capitalism."

After speakers from different organizations voiced their anger and views one by one in the corner between Wall Street and Broadway, protesters ambled through the narrow streets of New York's financial district, past the offices of JPMorgan Chase & Co., American Express, the New York Stock Exchange, the Federal Reserve and AIG.

Their noise could be heard in nearby offices.

Several of the companies posted security guards outside their entrances.

"Just look at these people! Some are old and in poor health, but they have no medical care; Some haven't been able to find a job for months to support their families," said Richard Gayes in his 60s. "They need help, but the government only put billions of dollars to save big banks but to the ignorance of these poor people."

Shouting "Bail out the people, not the banks," "Shame on Wall Street," a female protester who only gave her name as Jenniffer said the U.S. government must stop doing "silly things" and "be wise enough" so as to become "a real government of the people, for the people and by the people."

The march ended at the iconic bull statue near Wall Street. The crowd planned a second protest on Saturday, which coincides with the assassination of Martin Luther King.

Police said four marchers who tried to block traffic by walking down the middle of Broadway were arrested and charged with disorderly conduct.

The Bail Out the People Movement posted a statement on its website immediately after the marchers were arrested, demanding the release of all arrestees.

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