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J.J. Selmon

JJ Selmon is Executive Director of Sunflower Community Action

April 25th, 2010 9:14 PM

Blame it on the Banks

Showdown in the Heartland: Tuesday, April 27, 2010, 1:00pm at Barney Allis Plaza downtown Kansas City at the corner of 12th and Wyandotte

On Tuesday April 27th National People’s Action affiliates in the Heartland will be joining the Showdown in Kansas City. Sunflower Community Action, GRO Grass Roots Organizing and Iowa Citizens For Community Improvement will be kicking off a set of actions around the country at Wells Fargo and Bank Of America shareholders’ meeting. For far too long big banks have had the upper hand and a choke hold on our democracy. People in the Heartland are fed up. With big banks getting bailed out, not having to pay taxes, and getting the power from the Supreme Court to squeeze our democracy tighter, it’s no wonder they are making record profits.

In Kansas we are experiencing the worst state budget crisis in recent history and we blame big banks. School districts around the state are experiencing drastic cuts to their budgets. Programs and crucial services are being cut. This is not just specific to Kansas; states all over the country are experiencing these same budget shortfalls. If banks hadn’t benefited from the biggest form of social welfare ever, none of our states would be in this situation. If pooled together in one pot CEO bonuses alone would alleviate all of the states’ budget shortfalls. With the Showdown in the Heartland, we are sending the message that enough is enough and that it is time to reign in the banks that are too big to fail. We are also sending out a message to our elected officials and bank regulators by asking them: “Whose side are you on?”

Sunflower Community Action leader Mitzi Rivers-Singleton is a single mother of six. She was trapped in a vicious cycle of debt by payday lenders, the bottom feeders of financial lending. She had 6 payday loans and was paying $750 per month - just on the fees and interest rates alone - which was well over 400% APR. None of the money she was paying ever touched the principal of the $3,000 dollars she originally borrowed or helped to build her credit. If it wasn’t for a local credit union that bailed her out of the payday trap Mitzi would have never been eligible to be a homeowner, which by the way she accomplished recently after 3 years of working to rebuild her credit.

Big banks are interconnected with these bottom feeders. Wells Fargo provides the funding for over one-third of all payday lending storefronts and Bank Of America is a major shareholder of QC Holdings, one of the biggest payday lenders in the state of Kansas and Missouri. We want big banks to get out of bed with payday lenders and to start providing safe and affordable short-term lending products that help people build credit.

Sunflower, GRO and Iowa CCI will be taking our anger to the streets in downtown Kansas City and we invite anyone who feels the same way to join us at a rally and action Tuesday April 27th at Barney Allis Plaza at 1:00pm which is located at the corner of 12th and Wyandotte.

This event is one of a series of major actions this spring to demand big banks start putting America's economic recovery ahead of their oversized profits and bonuses. Thousands of Americans in more than a dozen cities from New York to Charlotte, North Carolina to Kansas City, Missouri will converge on bank branches and at the shareholder meetings of the big banks to demand action on foreclosure prevention, job creation, and an end to predatory lending and consumer practices. Community groups and families will also demand Wall Street stop spending millions fighting reform efforts in Congress. The mobilizations will be the largest demonstrations against Wall Street since 5,000 Americans converged on the American Bankers Association convention in Chicago last fall.

Please visit the Showdown in America website for more detail.

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