Irvington, NJ - A march and rally against foreclosures was held here on July 21. It was sponsored by the Coalition to Save Our Homes and the Peopleās Organization for Progress (POP). The event tied the suffering of homeowners directly to the predation of Wall Street. The demands were: end robo-signing; reduce mortgage principals to current value; prosecute banksters; make banks obey the rule of law.
Speakers denounced the banks for causing the mortgage crisis. Sharon Hand of POP and Carol Gay of the Solidarity Singers condemned lenders for issuing mortgages that they knew homeowners could not repay. They said the banksā actions were violations of human rights. The affected homeowners must take action to prevent foreclosure, including demands on public officials to meet their responsibilities to citizens.
Another speaker said all issues of peopleās economic justice trace directly to Wall Street. The main way the financial sector makes money now is by fraud, theft, embezzlement and gambling. JPMorgan Chase dropped $7 billion at the tables of the Wall Street big casino and nearly triggered another 2008-style financial collapse. Meanwhile young people in the cities are killing each other in the streets because they donāt have jobs and are desperate. They need to stop fighting each other and fight their real enemies.
Susan Newton of POP, who has worked as a mortgage underwriter, gave practical advice. She said if you need credit, always talk to several lenders. Remember the banks are not interested in your needs; instead they are looking out for ways to make money from you.
The Solidarity Singers performed several songs during the program, including Tom Biasās anthem, Foreclosure Song. Bias also related how the banks had worked him and his family over in their struggle to avoid foreclosure.
The Black Orchid Drummers performed at the end of the rally. The gathering headed off to march through Irvingtonās business district. The town authorities had denied a permit to march in the street, first on one pretext, then on another. We marched on the sidewalks anyway and it worked to our advantage. Passersby raised fists, shook hands and called out in agreement, and took informational fliers. Some defied the permit denial and marched in the street.
The protest proceeded to the local branch of Wells Fargo to āpay a visit.ā The marchers chanted āYou canāt rob the bank, but the bank can rob you!ā and āBanksters: Not too big to fail, not too big to jail!ā The Black Orchid Drummers played throughout the march, pulling people out of shops and stores. The community was with us.
Marchers headed back down to Civic Square and heard from POP Chairmen Lawrence Hamm. He said that the way banks raised mortgage payments amounts to stealing. Monthly payments are increased by thousands of dollars per month and homeowners simply cannot pay that much. He emphasized that Black people lost more personal wealth in the mortgage collapse than at any time since the Civil War. Bankers never think about the suffering they cause because the problems never affect them that way. He congratulated all the participants for holding a great event, and said we will continue to build a powerful movement against foreclosure.
To conclude the day, it was said that we will continue the local struggle and the focus on distressed homeowners. The longer term strategy is to look closely into the millions of āmissingā mortgage promissory notes that give rise to the robo-signing abuses. There was massive financial wrongdoing by the banks in the issuance of mortgage based securities. When we know what happened to all those notes we will know will where the bodies are buried in the mortgage mess. Then we will be able to lay the struggle of the homeowner right at the doorstep of Wall Street.