It’s Not Only Wall Street That’s Occupied … Across the Country, Americans Say Wall Street Must ‘Pay US Back’

Bay Area, CA / Boston, MA–(ENEWSPF)–September 29, 2011.  This week, homeowners, clergy, congregants, unions, and students in California’s Bay Area and Boston will conduct direct actions demanding that banks such as Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Chase, and Bank of America pay their fair share of taxes, end the mortgage crisis, and create jobs. Several weeks of 10-city actions from Boston to Honolulu (schedule below) are launching The New Bottom Line, a new nationwide coalition representing more than 1,000 faith-based and community organizations that seek to hold Wall Street accountable and find solutions for struggling and middle-class families.

The actions in the Bay Area include several clergy removing their church funds from major banks (today); families greeting bank executives at AT&T Park to demand they be allowed to keep their homes (Tuesday); cleaning up a foreclosed-on home and delivering the trash to the responsible bank (Wednesday); homeowners’ vigils at the Alameda County Courthouse to “mourn the American Dream” (Monday and Wednesday); and a mass mobilization of homeowners, city workers, nurses, teachers, and students in San Francisco’s Financial District (Thursday). See more details here: A lead organizer is Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE).

In Boston, between September 30 and October 1, struggling and middle-class people are planning a “surprise” direct action at Bank of America, and plan to assist several foreclosed on families with moving back into their homes, as well as a march and rally on the Boston Common. Last week, local residents cleaned up an abandoned property in Malden, MA and returned the trash to its owner, Bank of America. In addition, they issued a large-scale “Notice to Quit” to Massachusetts BOA President Robert Gallery, which included some of the group’s key demands, such as principal reduction for underwater homeowners. See event details and video of the trash return here, under latest actions: A lead organizer is Right to the City Alliance. 

In the first actions of the 10-city “Pay US Back” campaign last week, hundreds of protestors gathered at Chase Bank in Seattle and called on banks and CEOs to do more to help the struggling economy. Eleven people were arrested. In addition, 200 protesters disrupted wine tastings and golf tournaments at the Association of Washington Business Policy Summit at a secluded resort in Cle Elum, WA. 

“We are waiting for the Sheriff to give us a five day notice to vacate. We’re not going to leave our home. This is my American Dream and I refuse to let it go,” said Rose Mary Gudiel of La Puente, CA. Ms. Gudiel got a few days behind on her mortgage after her brother died, but quickly caught up. OneWest Bank directed her to apply for a loan modification, but denied it. She has announced that the Sheriff and OneWest will have to physically remove her. Watch the Gudiel family’s story here:

“Wall Street and the Big Banks are making record profits at the expense of the rest of us, and draining our wealth to pad their bottom line. Banks must pay their fair share of taxes, end the mortgage crisis by reducing principal for underwater homeowners, and create jobs through small business loans. Our bottom line means good jobs, healthy communities, and a government that fights for everyday people,” said LeeAnn Hall, Executive Director of Alliance for a Just Society, an organizational member of The New Bottom Line.

“Three years ago, when the collapse of Wall Street banks pushed our economy to the brink, taxpayers bailed out the guilty. The banks continued to hand out big bonuses, lobbied against financial reform, and foreclosed on millions of families. It’s time for banks like JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Wells Fargo to pay US back,” said George Goehl, Executive Director of National People’s Action, an organizational member of The New Bottom Line.

Each city (schedule below) has a local demand or proposal for making that community whole after years of mortgage fraud, predatory lending, and other wealth-stripping practices.

Nationwide, thousands of people are demanding that the banks “Pay US Back” and they must:

  • Pay their fair share of taxes: Stop draining government of revenue and pay their statutorily required 35% corporate income tax. Stop gaming the system through off-shore tax shelters and loopholes.
  • Stabilize the housing market and revitalize the economy:  Reduce principal for all underwater homeowners to current-market value. This would end the foreclosure crisis, reset the housing market, pump billions of dollars back into the economy and create one million jobs a year.
  • Invest in American jobs: Stop sitting on trillions in cash reserves that could be invested in small businesses, the main source of jobs in the U.S., and other job-generating investments.

Following the fall actions, grassroots organizations across the country will be putting Wall Street accountability on the 2012 campaign agenda, including ballot initiatives, local, state, and federal legislation and divestment campaigns forcing city and state governments to divest from the big banks that are destroying their communities. New Bottom Line members will advance policies that make candidates choose, “Which side are you on: Wall Street or the people?”

Schedule of Direct Actions Demanding that Wall Street “Pay US Back”



September 20-21 (completed, see links to coverage)

San Francisco/Bay Area

September 26-29

Daily actions with mass mobilization on Sept. 29


September 29 to October 1

Large-scale direct action at a bank focused on foreclosures. Build up of actions at homes and banks throughout September.

Los Angeles

October 3-6

Mass mobilization on Oct. 6


October 9-14

Mass mobilization, escalating actions throughout the week. Focus on revenue, jobs, foreclosure, and TIFs

New York City

October 11-14

Range of actions targeting banks, billionaires, state agencies and donors of elected officials against extending millionaires’ tax. Tactics include marches, subway turnstile hopping, using moving trucks as props.


October 10-15

A week of actions by Minnesotans for a Fair Economy partners directed at banks and financial institutions on issues including jobs, budget cuts/revenue, health care, and schools. Joint action in downtown Minneapolis on Friday, Oct. 15 at 3 p.m. 


October 25-29

Direct actions targeting Wells Fargo on foreclosures, predatory/payday lending, and private prison divestment.


November 5-7

All-day conference kicking off New Bottom Line campaign in Hawaii, clergy leaders speaking at more than dozen Oahu churches. Holding events/actions during Asian Pacific Economic Conference.


The New Bottom Line is a new and growing movement fueled by a coalition of community organizations, congregations, labor unions, and individuals working together to challenge established big bank interests on behalf of struggling and middle-class communities. Together, we are working to restructure Wall Street to help American families build wealth, close the country’s growing income gap and advance a vision for how our economy can better serve the many rather than the few. Coalition members include PICO National Network, National People’s Action (NPA), Alliance for a Just Society, Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE), Industrial Areas Foundation of the Southeast (IAF-SE) and dozens of state and local organizations from around the country.

 Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE) is a statewide community organization working with thousands of members in eleven counties creating transformative change by helping ordinary citizens to organize and take action. California is host to the world’s eighth largest economy, yet every day more and more Californians are losing their jobs, falling further behind on their rent or mortgage payments and sending their kids to failing schools.  ACCE is dedicated to raising the voices of everyday Californians, neighborhood by neighborhood, so that our children have stronger communities and expanded opportunities.

Right to the City Alliance is a national alliance of membership-based organizations and allies organizing to build a united response to gentrification and displacement in our cities.  Our goal is to build a national urban movement for housing, education, health, racial justice and democracy.  We are building our power through strengthening local organizing; cross-regional collaboration; developing a national platform; and supporting community reclamation in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast.