Minnesotans for a Fair Economy, SEIU Local 26, and Twin City activists protested outside of U.S. Bancorp’s shareholders meeting while some of their own questioned CEO Richard Davis inside. Advocates point out that April 17 is tax day for working Americans yet Bancorp and Wells Fargo receive massive tax breaks in the billions.
Local resident, Monique White, works two part-time jobs after the non-profit she worked for lost its funding and had to cut her position. As a result she fell behind her home mortgage and Davis’ bank has refused to work with her. Seeing her neighbors lose their homes and the continued threat she faces pushed White into action.
“I basically told [Davis] that my house is in foreclosure and I explained to him how high the foreclosure is in my area,” said White, who entered the meeting as a proxy shareholder. “The house across the street sold for $9,000. I don’t understand how U.S. Bank hadn’t been willing to met with me to renegotiate or modify my loan and make it affordable for me to stay.”
White is just one of millions of working class Americans who fell victim to the Great Recession caused by the banking industry. Activists want big corporations, in particular big banks, to pay their “fair share.” Marginal tax rates for corporations stand at 35 percent but due to loopholes in the tax code many find themselves paying far less.
“When big banks, corporations and the rest of the 1% don’t pay their fair share of taxes, the citizens of Minnesota must pick up the slack,” said Robin Dial, a laid-off public school teacher, to the crowd of about 200 rallying outside. Dial taught for eight years in the D.C. area prior to moving to Minnesota and accepting a job in the Anoka-Hennepin school district. She found herself a causality of the state budget woes after just a half-year on the job.
“These banks and corporations say they deserve these tax breaks and loopholes because they say they are creating jobs,” continued Dial. “But they continue to lay off workers, send jobs overseas where they can pay unfair wages, and put their profits in offshore bank accounts where they are sheltered from paying taxes on it. Well, I don’t have that luxury. Nor do the rest of us.”
Following the rally outside, the activists from SEIU Local 26, Minnesotan for a Fair Economy and other organizations marched through downtown Minneapolis drawing the attention of the lunch crowd. Onlookers reacted with amusement, agreement, or sheer confusion as the protesters followed behind a horse and buggy that carried two actors wearing large headpieces that resembled Davis and Wells Fargo Executive Vice President Jonn Campbell. Along the route the protesters appropriately passed the Bancorp building and made a stop outside of the Wells Fargo Center to present a fair tax bill to the actor portraying Campbell.
Shareholders continued asking questions as the rally turned into a march outside. One of the issues Minnesotans for a Fair Economy has focused on includes organizing the large Somali population in the Twin Cities. The organization contends that a large majority of the Somali population banks with either U.S. Bank or Wells Fargo. Late last year U.S. Bank stop transferring funds back to family members in East Africa.
“U.S. Bank and their leaders who are here today have the ability to restore the lifeline to Somalia,” said Ibrahim Nur. “While members of their staff have met with us, we still do not have a solution. Each day that this crisis continues, more and more of our families suffer.”
The organizations efforts in the community have resulted in thousands pledging to close their accounts after May 11 if no solution can be reached. Davis told the shareholders that shared their concerns that bank officials would meet with them to find a solution.
Davis also pledged to meet Monique White to further discuss her attempts to keep her home.
What the video below for an unedited look at the rally.
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