As the Senate gears up to continue its debate over Wall Street reform, liberal activists and labor unions are mobilizing protesters against the big banks in demonstrations in downtown Washington and in front of the homes of bank lobbyists.
Several hundred demonstrators from multiple states on Sunday collected in front of the homes Gregory Baer, a deputy counsel for Bank of America, and Peter Scher, an executive and lobbyist for JPMorgan Chase. Organized by the Service International Employees Union (SEIU) and the Chicago-based grassroots group National People's Action (NPA), the protesters took to the wealthy Washington suburbs to demand that banks stop lobbying against financial reform legislation.
Baer and Scher are the "people who are responsible for lobbying efforts against financial reform," said Rev. Robert Bushey, a community organizer involved with the event. "They're the ones responsible for the foreclosure crises and predatory lending in our communities."
Protesters, bearing signs and bullhorns, broke out in chants like, "Bank of America: bad for America!" as the video from YouTube above shows.
The groups are planning more protests for this week, including a march today on K Street in Washington, a street synonymous with lobbying firms. The liberal groups MoveOn.org and Jobs for Justice, as well as the AFL-CIO labor union, are joining in the march.
"It's time to take on the corporate lobbyists who have a stranglehold on our democracy," MoveOn wrote in an e-mail to its members today.
Several hundred protesters also gathered outside the law firm Nixon-Peabody today, accusing the firm of lobbying in favor of large developers to the disadvantage of low-income families and seniors. Protestors also converged at the offices of Tony Podesta, one of the country's top political fundraisers. The Podesta Group lobbies for bank clients including Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Sallie Mae and BP. Tony Podesta is also the brother of John Podesta, head of the liberal think tank Center for American Progress.
Meanwhile, liberal Democrats are expected to push this week for amendments to the Democrats' financial reform bill, in spite of opposition to the amendments from large banks and some other Democrats leading the reform efforts, the Hill reports.
Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Carl Levin (D-Mich.) are pushing an amendment, opposed by Wall Street banks, to place stronger restrictions on proprietary trading. Meanwhile, Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) is fighting for an amendment to ban so-called "naked" credit default swaps, even though Senate Banking Committee Chair Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) does not want to take up the issue.