As Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) has said, the nation’s biggest banks have essentially gained “too big for trial” status, and the federal government has failed to prosecute any executive at a Big Bank for financial fraud.
While Wall Street has escaped prosecutions, thousands of Americans have been arrested in the course of protests against the banks. As of May 2013, that number is 7,736 — according to the website Occupy Arrests, which tracks arrests.
On Monday, dozens of homeowners who have faced abuses by Big Banks rallied outside the Department of Justice (DOJ) in Washington, D.C. They demanded that the agency finally prosecute Wall Street banks who have become, as Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) has said, “too big for trial.”
The march, consisting of well over a hundred demonstrators, started at Washington, D.C.’s Freedom Plaza. The marchers came from as far as Portland, Oregon, and large contingents came from cities plagued with foreclosures, such as Atlanta and New York City.
“We’re really excited over the last two and a half days we’ve had residents from around the country who’ve lost their homes or who are fighting to save their homes, come together to commit to training for change, to bring the movement back to their community, to keep fighting for their homes, and also to risk arrest today as we march to the DOJ and refuse to leave until we get a meeting with Eric Holder, until we get a commitment that he’s going to start going after banks,” said Tim Franzen, who works for the quaker social justice group American Friends Service Committee. “And it’s not just about jailing bankers, it’s about bringing resources back into our communities. Wealth that has been stolen. Trillions of dollars of wealth has been stolen from our neighborhoods and you can just drive through them and see the consequences. The boarded up homes. People on the street. We are not on a crisis of economic resources, it’s one of priorities. And that’s what we’re here to say today.”
The demonstrators marched to the Department of Justice, where they rallied outside the main entrance. At that entrance, several police armed with pepper guns and other crowd control weapons at first pushed the demonstrators back, and began arresting several activists. But they soon abandoned the entrance and retreated inside; this prompted protesters to place tents outside the door marked, “Foreclose on Banks.”
Protesters split up and blockaded all three major entrances of the Department of Justice building, and at least 17 – mostly homeowners who had lost their homes thanks to abuses by the Big Banks — were arrested by police, who utilized tasers, batons, and other weapons on the protesters.
UPDATE: Congressional Progressive Caucus co-chair Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) issues statement in support of the protesters:
“I see the devastation of the foreclosure crisis every day in towns across the Minneapolis metro area, and I stand with the millions of struggling homeowners in Minnesota and across the country seeking justice after unfairly being kicked out of their homes. Banks have paid less than half the payments they owe to homeowners since 2008, and have yet to pay a dime of the latest settlement from 2011.
“It’s time we had real accountability for the bankers who deceived the American people and wrecked our economy in 2008.”