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From Denny: Don't you just love it? We are all outraged at the greed of America's Big Banks. Feel helpless? Feel vulnerable? No worries. Your local exorcists are here to save the day.
A bunch of New York City clergy banded together to go after JPMorgan Chase Bank. The ministers are angry at failed mortgage policies that simply don't well address the national foreclosure crisis. I've been posting about this crisis for some time on my American news blog, The Social Poets. Did you realize that over 21 million people are out of work for the past five years? Did you know that over 20 million homes are in foreclosure and more in the pipeline?
Well, these New York ministers decided they had enough of the corporate greed and plunder of America. They gathered at JPMorgan Chase today to close their accounts. They also went about their spiritual work, chasing off evil spirits inhabiting the bank.
From one of those ministers, Rev. Allan Ramirez of the Brookville Reformed Church, in Brookville, N.Y., "JPMorgan Chase needs to be exorcised from the demons of selfishness, avarice and greed. The people who bailed them out when they brought us to the brink of a world economic collapse are the very people whose mortgages they are foreclosing and throwing out on the streets into homelessness."
The New York Communities for Change is a group made up of elected officials, clergy and unions are working together to pressure JPMorgan Chase to change its mortgage policies and get serious about addressing the foreclosure crisis. Good luck on that one. Big Banks are a stubborn arrogant bunch, not prone to change unless it affects their paychecks.
Other ministers who joined in on the exorcism were Bishop Orlando Findlayter and Minister Patricia Malcolm of Churches United to Save and Heal. They represent a coalition of over 100 churches in Brooklyn.
Minister Malcolm said, "It is powerful when the community comes together to stand up and do something about the foreclosure and mortgage crisis, especially when you see banks like Chase profiting by preying on families. Institutions like Chase were built by the people they have a responsibility to help those struggling. It doesn't matter whether you have $5 or $60,000 in an account: We want Chase to get the message."
The latest statistics on home ownership? Almost 25 percent of all American homeowners - about 10.8 million - are under water with their mortgages, yes, they owe more than the house is now worth.
But what about those loan modifications that Obama instructed the federal government to give funds to do? The Big Banks are sitting on those funds, refusing to release but a pittance of them. In the New York area alone, only six percent of over 1,000 homeowners seeking assistance received said loan modification to fit their new lesser budget.
What does JPMorgan Chase have to say? Spokesman Michael Fusco: "The bank is doing everything possible to help homeowners. In the New York metro area, we encourage struggling Chase borrowers to come to our five-day event at the Brooklyn Bridge Marriott that starts March 31 and runs through April 4. We will have dozens of loan counselors available to talk one on one with customers and gave over their specific situation. We also have five permanent centers in the New York metro area -- in Flushing, Brooklyn and the Bronx as well as Jersey City and Paramus, N.J. -- to provide face-to-face counseling to homeowners, and have met with 9,298 borrowers through the end of 2010."
And The Big Claim from JPMorgan Chase: "We have helped avoid 487,294 foreclosures since 2009, avoiding foreclosure twice as often as we have had to foreclose."
In February, New York City Councilman Jumaane Williams stormed a Park Avenue Chase bank branch. He denounced the bank's failure to help homeowners to avoid foreclosure. Williams yelled out to the cheering crowd how the bank executives are "bloodsuckers for accepting money and refusing to help homeowners they preyed upon."
What happened at that bank branch? You guessed it. Williams was stopped by security guards at the door, telling him the branch was closed. The mob chanted for them to "Open the door!" until the bank allowed Williams inside to close his account.
Williams wanted to close his account because of what he encountered while campaigning. He said on every block he met at least two people with mortgage troubles. Williams didn't want "the bank to use his money to further deteriorate the community" he represents. He was especially outraged at CEO Jamie Dimon's recent $17 million bonus.
From Williams: "It's incredible what these banks are making people go through. It's disgusting. They're like bloodsuckers, just sucking the lifeblood out of communities and refusing to help out. I understand that people need to get paid to get the best and brightest and these bonuses help with that, but you can't do that and then not assist the community and then get a taxpayer bailout to the tune of billions of dollars. That's just greed at its worst."
Let's all hope this exorcism is successful. If it takes out-of-the-box thinking and doing then they sure have my support. The real question is: But where is President Obama on reining in Big Banks and alleviating the suffering of the middle class in this country? He remains silent.
Not the Way Forward: Jumaane Williams from New York Communities for Change on Vimeo.
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