“It’s wrong that working people are being kicked out of their homes
and are losing their jobs, while the rich get bailed out. It’s
disgusting. It’s creating a depression, a worldwide depression,” said
Jeremy Radabaugh, of BOPM and a former organizer for the United
Electrical Workers, the union that organized the Chicago factory occupation at Republic Windows and Doors last December.
Demonstrators came from around the country, including Baltimore, Seattle, Philadelphia and Buffalo.
BOPM used the protest to demand numerous measures to combat the
economic crisis, including a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures,
an end to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, the passage of the Employee Free Choice Act and more.
Underscoring the urgency for action to combat the economic crisis,
the protest came on a day when newly released unemployment figures
showed that over 660,000 jobs were lost in March, increasing the official unemployment rate to 8.5 percent. The actual rate of unemployment is much higher,
as the federal government’s numbers do not include people who have
given up searching for jobs or part-time workers who would much rather
“I don’t think it’s fair that we bail out billionaires but we don’t
help the working people. And I’m somebody that lost their job, so I’m
really affected by this,” said Tsehai Hiwot, an activist with World Can’t Wait and the International Action Center,
as she was holding up a long banner that read, “International Working
Women’s Day ’09 Coalition.” She continued, saying, “Why do I have to
pay my taxes [that go] into the pockets of people that made greedy
After a long slew of speakers from various organizations, including
anti-war and health care advocates, protesters started marching down
Pine St., chanting, “Bail out the people, not the banks,” as NYPD
officers on motorcycle followed.
The marchers stopped in front of the offices of the American International Group (AIG), the insurance behemoth
that has earned the scorn of millions of Americans for paying
executives exorbitant amount of bonuses while the federal government
pumps bailout money into AIG. AIG’s Financial Products division is a
main culprit in the financial crisis, due to its dealings with credit
With beefed up police presence blocking the entrance of the AIG
building, demonstrators shouted, “AIG has got to go,” and “Jail them,
don’t bail them.”
“[This action is] directed at the bosses of the government, who are
down here on Wall Street,” said Dustin Langley, media coordinator for
BOPM. “Since our government doesn’t listen, we sometimes have to go
over their heads and straight to management. So we’re talking to their
managers now: AIG, CitiGroup, Bank of America, and Bear Stearns.”
The marchers also made stops in front of Bank of America offices,
chanting, “Bank of America, give back our homes,” and shouting epithets
at the onlookers inside the building.
The demonstration winded down late in the afternoon, and ended with speakers at Foley Sq., near Chinatown.
“The banks don’t look out for the interest of the people. They look out for themselves,” said Brandon King of the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement.
“And the government is in cahoots with the banks, using our money, our
taxpayer money, to bail out the banks when they have big bonuses like
AIG did. There’s mad homeless people on the street, and there’s also
massive loss of jobs. People need a bailout, banks don’t need that
Sarah Secunda contributed reporting for this article.
NEW YORK, April 3 (Reuters) - Several hundred demonstrators
protested near Wall Street on Friday against the handling of
the U.S. economic crisis, government bailouts of private banks
and corporations and bonuses paid out at insurer AIG.
Members of worker rights, healthcare and anti-war groups
gathered in the rain holding posters that read "Bail Out the
Unemployed" and "No More $ For Wall St & War."
They also shouted demands for more jobs.
"This crisis is growing more dire everyday with so many
people being kicked out of their home and jobs," said Dustin
Langley, a spokesman for the 'Bail Out The People Movement',
the main protest organizer that called for a moratorium on U.S.
home foreclosures and the creation of a national jobs program.
Hundreds of protesters lined up on Broadway to march past
the headquarters of American International Group (AIG.N: Quote, Profile, Research) and
close to the New York Stock Exchange and financial giants Bank
of America, Chase and American Express, but were not permitted
on Wall Street.
The rally was held as the rate of unemployment in the
United States soared to 8.5 percent, the highest in 25 years,
after employers cut 663,000 jobs in March.
Michael Feinberg, 51, a rabbi who runs a nonprofit workers
rights group, held a sign that read 'Regulate The Profiteers,'
and argued that corporations who helped plunge the economy into
recession should not have received bailout money.
"That money should have been used to put people to work, to
create jobs and healthcare, not to reward greedy financial
speculators," he said. "This has to be a wake-up call that we
have to change our national priorities about the way we do
business in this country."
Friday's protest follows hundreds of others held around the
United States since the bailout of investment banks began last
year. Another demonstration is planned for Saturday in New York
by the same group.
"These bankers ought to be jailed," said David Sole, 60, a
chemist who traveled from Detroit to express his anger over the
bailouts granted as the U.S. economy continues to slump.
With tears in his eyes, Sole decried the high number of
home foreclosures and job losses suffered by his neighbors in
Michigan. "It's unbelievable this would have happened in my
lifetime. It's like we are in the 1930s," he said.
(Reporting by Christine Kearney, editing by Michelle Nichols
and Anthony Boadle)