Hundreds demand moratorium on Detroit’s debt during BOA protest Pastor calls for mass turn-out at PA4 appeals hearing May 17 10 A.M.
By Diane Bukowski
May 12, 2012
DETROIT – Several hundred marchers called for a moratorium on Detroit’s $16.9 billion debt to the banks, and even cancellation, during a protest at the city’s Bank of America (BOA) headquarters May 9, which concluded with a march to the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center (CAYMC).
The marchers called out “No consent to the one percent, not one cent, cancel the debt,” and “The banks call the shots while Detroit rots!”
Thousands more marched across the country to protest BOA’a annual shareholders meeting in Charlotte, North Carolina, where this year’s Democratic Convention will take place.
The Detroit protest was precedent-setting, the first march held focusing primarily on the banks as the architects of Detroit’s ruin. In addition to the city’s debt, marchers also called for a moratorium on the debt of the Detroit Public Schools, noting that 80 percent of the DPS state per-pupil aid is set aside to pay the banks, resulting in the closure of hundreds of public schools, tens of thousands of lay-offs, and massive New Orleans-style charterization.
“This demonstration is the first that has told the truth about the Financial Advisory Board,” Jerry Goldberg of the Moratorium NOW! Coalition said during the rally. “The Financial Advisory Board is all about robbery by the banks. The city itself has been victimized by predatory lending. This year, it paid $597 million out of a budget of $1.2 billion on its debt. The consent agreement is a grab by the banks for our tax dollars, even if it means destroying every city service.”
The Public Act 4 consent agreement passed by the Detroit City Council “Fatal Five” April 4 established all-powerful entities that will dictate to city officials. They include an unelected nine-member “Financial Advisory Board,” and a new Chief Financial Officer and Program Management Director approved by Governor Rick Snyder.
State and city politicians, in collusion with the banks, are now rapidly dismantling Detroit. Shutdowns of the city’s health, human services, transportation, planning and development and other departments are in the works, along with the lay-offs of 2,500 city workers.
“Jail the bankers, Dave Bing, Rick Snyder, and the City Council five,” Larry Hicks said. “Both the Democratic and Republican parties are working for the banks, not the people. We need third and fourth parties to organize the people to fight banksters like Bernie Madoff and others who stole billions. The local media does not tell the real news in this mediocracy. We need to boycott them and anything run by the banks.”
Attorney Bob Day noted that the struggle against the banks is world-wide.
“This battle is going on in Montreal, Greece, Spain, France and everywhere,” Day said. “People are saying to hell with the banks and their austerity programs. The banks set our communities up for disaster, and when it all fell down, they didn’t get hurt. They got bailed out by our tax dollars. Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of people are out of their homes, and the loss of tax revenues to our cities has brought in Public Act 4 and emergency managers, which guarantee that the banks will get paid first, This is nothing but a dictatorship of the banks. What we need is world revolution.”
The Rev. Charles E. Williams Sr. called on the marchers to pack an emergency appeals court hearing on the April 26 state Board of Canvassers’ vote preventing a referendum against Public Act 4 from getting on the November ballot. The Act has disenfranchised over half of Michigan’s African-American population while dismantling their cities and school districts, in Benton Harbor, Flint, Pontiac, Highland Park, Inkster, and now Detroit among others.
The hearing is Thursday, May 17 at 10 a.m. before a panel consisting of Appeals Court Judges Kurtis T. Wilder (presiding), Kirsten Frank Kelly, and Michael Riordan. It will take place in the Detroit office of the Court of Appeals at in the Cadillac Place Building (old GM building), on West Grand Blvd. at Second.
Stand Up for Democracy filed the case, with amicus curiae briefs filed by the Michigan ACLU, Michigan AFSCME, and others.
“We must galvanize the public and energize ourselves,” Rev. Williams Sr. said. “We must meet the judges there and hold them hostage to do the right thing. Two hundred thousand signatures mean something. Be there; stand in the judges’ face!”
Attorney Vanessa Fluker spoke on behalf of the tens of thousands of homeowners who have been victimized by foreclosures on predatory mortgages.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re disabled, or a senior citizen,” Fluker said. “They will throw you right out on the street. You can send 10, 20, 30 requests for loan modification in and it doesn’t matter as long as they get you out of your house and get paid in full with our tax dollars for the mortgages.”
Shealia Tyson said the march was “long overdue.”
“I came here in 2000 and worked at hard,” Tyson explained. “I recognized then that there was a massive foreclosure problem looming, but nobody would listen. People were being victimized by the mortgage companies. One young lady’s mortgage note ballooned to $1600.”
Ms. Laurene Brown said, “Leaders in high places are committing crimes against the people of Detroit.” Quoting 2 Chronicles 7:14, she said they will face retribution.
The verse reads, “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
Others who spoke at the historic rally included Joe McGuire of Occupy Detroit, A.J. Freer, 2nd Vice-President of United Auto Workers Local 600, Wayne County Commissioner Martha Scott, who has sponsored a resolution for a moratorium on foreclosures, and Detroit City Councilwoman JoAnn Watson, a prime leader in the fight against Public Act 4 and the takeover of Detroit.
Meanwhile, nearly 1,000 marchers converged from three different directions on the BOA shareholders meeting in Charlotte, under heavy police repression. Organizers called it the largest protest of its kind in the history of BOA shareholders meetings.
Dozens of shareholders inside, including New York City’s comptroller, peppered BOA CEO Brian Moynihan with angry comments about BOA’s foreclosures and failure to modify home loans properly. (http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/5-protesters-arrested-trying-to-enter-bank-of-america-shareholders-meeting-in-north-carolina/2012/05/09/gIQANt52CU_story.html ).
An analyst from Credit Agricole Securities ranked Moynihan, who makes $7.1 million a year in salary alone, as the nation’s worst big bank CEO. (http://finance.fortune.cnn.com/2012/05/09/bank-of-america-moynihan-worst-ceo/)
Below if video of “Flash Mob” action at Detroit’s Bank of America May 8, 2012.