Bring Justice to Justice! Wall Street Accountability Week of Action May 18-23rd: Washington DC
Protesters stage a highly successful protest at DoJ, demand an end to ‘Too Big to Jail’On the evening of May 20, individuals identifying as bank executives Jamie Dimon, Lloyd Blankfein, Brian Moynihan, and John Stumpf were arrested on the steps of the Department of Justice in Washington, DC. May 20 was day one of a week of action organized by Home Defenders League and Occupy Our Homes to bring homeowners from across the US to protest and, in some cases, risk arrest in order to draw attention to the ‘Too Big to Jail’ immunity currently sheltering the real bank executives responsible for the foreclosure crisis from prosecution.
Despite the evidence of mortgage fraud and wrongful foreclosure nationwide, not one executive who led the disastrous practices that resulted in the housing crisis has seen jail time. The havoc reeked by their greed and dishonesty devastated millions of homeowners who have yet to recover from the crisis.
Hundreds gathered in DC from as far away as California, Washington, and Florida to demand a reversal of ‘Too Big to Jail’ and the prosecution of Wall Street criminals. A group of 500 protesters marched from Freedom Plaza to the barricaded gates of the Department of Justice, shutting down streets and drawing a significant police presence. Protesters pounded drums and chanted “Jail the bankers, not the people,” attracting the attention of crowds on the sidewalks. When they reached the steps of the Department of Justice, police greeted them armed with full riot gear, AK-47s, and tear gas.
Unintimidated, a few protesters slowly and deliberately climbed over the heavy steel barricades to stand face-to-face with police on the other side. The officers retreated and eventually fled inside as protesters chanted “No Justice, No Peace.” Protesters dismantled the barricades and ‘redecorated’ the entryway, carrying over couches and a large wooden façade reading “Bank Foreclosed.”
Police reinforcements arrived quickly and demanded that the protesters vacate the entryway or risk arrest. Protesters locked arms in defiance. As arrests began, police began to taser protesters. One victim was 23-year-old Carmen Pittman, who was tasered without warning while being handcuffed. Those arrested included a Pastor, a war veteran, a former school principle, and several retirees.
Protesters occupied the area through the night until police woke them at 6 a.m. with another wave of arrests. Remaining organizers held an afternoon press conference, in which Brian Kettenring of the Leadership for the Common Good and other union leaders expressed solidarity with the protesters and condemned ‘Too Big to Jail’ as unjust. That night, the group planned for the final action in the morning.
On the morning of May 22, the protesters gathered for a march to Covington and Burling LLP, the former private practice of Eric Holder. This action was designed to condemn the ‘revolving door’ policy in Washington, wherein private lawyers who defend Wall Street banks are appointed to government positions at agencies like the Department of Justice, where they are tasked with forcing those same banks to uphold the law in an egregious example of conflict of interest.
Undeterred by the police brutality of the previous days’ events, homeowners and their allies boldly sat in the firm’s revolving door entrance, where they were arrested for unlawful entry. One protester overheard a security guard’s ironically suitable words to a police officer: “If you don’t arrest them, they’ll just do it again.”
At the end of the week, the sustained protest has made an impact. The media attention and coverage that the events received has been extensive and the homeowners are taking the fight back to their hometowns.
Join the fight against ‘Too Big to Jail’ here and tell Wall Street to reset mortgages to market value and end foreclosures here. Support the campaign here.
For more media coverage of the Week of Action events, visit the materials page for the event.