If you only paid attention to the mainstream media, you might think that the Occupy Wall Street movement in America was dead and gone, but if you know where to look, there are signs that the global uprising inspired regular people to re-involve themselves in their communities, holding local leaders and institutions accountable for their actions.
Just ask members of Occupy Buffalo in upstate New York. Following concerns raised by members of the movement, the City’s Comptroller recently announced that the city would be pulling $45 million in funds from an account with JPMorgan Chase.
In late 2011, JPMorgan Chase was one of five major banks accused of a myriad of financial negligence, from robo-signing documents and writing loans and modifications they knew their clients could not afford to foreclosing on mortgages they didn’t even own.
One former banker from JPMorgan Chase, James Theckston, admitted to columnist Nicholas Kristof that banks were well aware that what they were doing was fraud, but assumed that they would never be held responsible for it in the end. “On the application, you don’t put down a job; you don’t show income; you don’t show assets. But you still got a nod. If you had some old bag lady walking down the street and she had a decent credit score, she got a loan…The bigwigs of the corporations knew this, but they figured we’re going to make billions out of it, so who cares? The government is going to bail us out. And the problem loans will be out of here, maybe even overseas.”
Then, in mid-May, it was found that continued irresponsible behavior caused JPMorgan to suffer a $2 billion trading loss. The bank’s CEO Jamie Dimon will now be forced to explain what he called “flawed, complex, poorly reviewed, poorly executed and poorly monitored” trading to both the U.S. Senate and House.
Disgusted with the fact that banks were continuing to behave irresponsibly with investors’ money and foreclose on struggling homeowners, members of Occupy Buffalo decided it was time their city removed its financial support from the bank.
“I commend the comptroller for seeking a solution to concerns raised by residents, while at the same time saving taxpayers’ money by doing business with a local bank,” Buffalo Council President Richard A. Fontana told RawStory. The City’s substantial bank account will now be moved to local bank First Niagara. The new account will earn 0.30 percent interest, a .05 percent improvement over the JPMorgan Chase account.
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