A hundred protesters focused on banks, bailouts and foreclosures in a Saturday Walnut Creek demonstration at a different location: South Main Street and Newell Avenue.
This one, in contrast to the series of Wednesday protests in Walnut Creek, was organized by the Central Contra Costa Council of Moveon.org to proclaim disenchantment with large banks. It was held on the sidewalk in front of Chase bank. MoveOn.org is a national organization whose motto is "democracy in action."
One of those on the sidewalk in front of Chase bank was an Oakland woman facing a Chase foreclosure. "I've been fighting with the bank for two-and-a-half years to save my home," said Brenda Reed, who said the bank has plans to sell her foreclosed Rockridge district home shortly before Christmas.
Reed said she has been organizing protests against harsh disclosure procedures since January under the auspices of the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, so it was a natural to come out for Move On and Occupy demonstrations.
Reed, who works as a federal mediator in employment discrimination cases, said she runs a bed and breakfast in the house. She refinanced in 2007.
"My loan has been securitized, diced and sliced God knows how many times," Reed said. Not long after she said that, fellow protesters chanted, "The banks love your money — not you."
Standing alongside Reed, John Frangolis of Walnut Creek said 6.37 million homes in the country face foreclosure. Banks, he said, need to be more responsive to the needs of communities.
The protest was part of MoveOn's Make Wall Street Pay Action around the country Nov. 5. Its aim was to point out that the rich are getting richer while the middle class and poor are struggling. "Meanwhile, Wall Street and the top 1 percent are getting record bonuses, earning record profits and still refusing to pay their fair share," the MoveOn website stated.
The viral movement developed in response to announcements by Chase, Bank of America and Wells Fargo that each bank had either instituted pilot programs charging debit card users a fee or had announced plans to charge such a fee. In recent weeks, all three major banks withdrew those plans after public backlash over the proposed fees.
Protesters passed out fliers giving people local bank and credit union alternatives to Wall Street-based banks.
"There's a lot of power in people gathering together, like (in opposition of) the debit card fees, and I wanted to be a part of that," said Carol Christopher of Pleasant Hill. Christopher said she pulled her money out of her Chase bank account prior to today's protests.
A sampling of protest signs:
- I am the 99 percent, I can't afford a lobbyist.
- Banks got bailed out, we got sold out
- It's easier to rob a man with a pen than with a gun — Woody Guthrie.
- Bad Chase; Spank the banks, Join a credit union.
- Losing your house and job ain't no tea party.
Ellen Beans of Moraga carried a sign that read, "Heal America, tax Wall Street."
"It's an important time for people to speak out," said Beans. "The corporations have had enormous power. The Congress and both parties are totally ineffectual."
Beans said she felt part of the "silent majority" that needs to speak out about inequities in response to the high visibility activism of the tea party movement. "If the majority does not speak, power goes to a vocal minority," she said.
"I am fed up with the growing inequality in our country and how big money is running our government,"said Sheilah Fish of Moraga, an organizer with Central Contra Costa MoveOn. "I don't think we have a true democracy like we had 40 years ago."
It was a busy day of protesting around Contra Costa County, including and . Meanwhile, the tale of an Oakland store owner wielding a shotgun to deter would-be looters was making the rounds of the national media.
Bay City News Service contributed to this report