On May 16, over thirty members of Communities United for Action traveled to Columbus to tell JPMorgan Chase shareholders, board members, and CEO that working families would no longer pay for the financial crisis created by Chase and other big banks. CUFA joined National People’s Action and other community groups and unions to build a vocal protest of 1,000 demonstrators outside Chase’s annual shareholders meeting. The rally commanded the attention of shareholders and media with towering 20ft banners and giant wooden puppets of Chase CEO Jamie Dimon. In a daring attempt to steal from the rich, and give to the poor, a group of demonstrators dressed as Robin Hood used a plywood bridge to cross a moat-like pond that surrounded the office building. Both county and city police armed with guard dogs and mace stopped the group as soon as they crossed onto the property.

In addition to the energetic display outside of the shareholders meeting, CUFA board member Mae Richardson and CUFA president Roger Davis addressed shareholders inside the meeting. The pair urged the company to make crucial changes to foreclosure and lending practices. Richardson told shareholders that Chase foreclosed on her family’s home and then abandoned the property without transferring ownership records. With her family still in legal possession of the house, Richardson was stuck with bills and fines from the city associated with the property that Chase had taken from her and then let fall into disrepair. Roger Davis also addressed shareholders during the meeting. Citing Chase’s foreclosure on 1,280 homes in Hamilton County since 2005, Davis said the foreclosures in Cincinnati made “ghost towns” out of neighborhoods. He urged bank leaders to modify mortgages and keep families in their homes. The Huffington Post interviewed both Richardson and Davis about their comments.

JPMorgan Chase and the Financial Meltdown

JPMorgan Chase directly contributed to the subprime mortgage scandal and the 2008 financial crisis that soon followed.JPMorgan Chase played a significant role by providing financing to the nation’s two largest subprime lenders, Countrywide and Ameriquest; they gave the companies the capital needed to originate subprime mortgages.JPMorgan Chase was also heavily involved in buying and selling derivatives.Derivatives are a financial product that allows companies and consumers to bet on stocks, contracts, and importantly, subprime mortgages.The derivatives traded by JPMorgan Chase helped to spread and intensify the impact of the housing market collapse they financed.After the market collapse, JPMorgan Chase accepted taxpayer bailouts and backstops totaling $94.7 billion.Despite this, the company recovered fast, posting $17.4 billion in profits in 2010 and awarding its top executives almost $8.7 billion in bonuses.

JPMorgan Chase: Still Hurting Working Families

Unfortunately, JPMorgan Chase is not interested in investing its wealth back into the public. JPMorgan Chase has contributed to the credit crunch by decreasing their lending to small businesses. The company’s lending to small businesses fell by two-thirds between 2007 and 2009. JPMorgan Chase has also made it difficult for families to restructure their mortgages and avoid foreclosure. The bank started trial mortgage modifications for only 25% of its 417,341 borrowers who are eligible for the Obama Administration’s Making Home Affordable Program. Chase has also been notorious for collecting payments during long trial modifications and then foreclosing on the property even in cases where the borrower makes all payments on time. This practice has made JPMorgan Chase the target of at least one lawsuit in San Francisco.

Instead of helping families avoid foreclosure or investing in small business, JPMorgan Chase has spent its taxpayer bailout lobbying against financial reform. The company has lobbied against the Consumer Overdraft Protection Fair Practices Act, the Mortgage Reform and Anti-Predatory Lending Act, the Credit Cardholders’ Bill of Rights Act of 2009, the Helping Families Save Their Homes in Bankruptcy Act, the Derivatives Trading Integrity Act, the Compensation Fairness Act, and financial services regulation in general. JPMorgan Chase is also part of the Financial Services Round Table, which worked to defeat the Employee Free Choice Act. The Employee Free Choice Act supports collective bargaining rights by ensuring that workers can exercise a free choice to form a union without interference or intimidation from management.

CUFA will continue to fight for fair lending practices and loan modifications through a new community action group called Invest in People. Invest in People is working to find new ways to balance the city and state budget without cutting funding to vital services such as mortgage counseling programs, health clinics, and recreation centers. To get involved, come to the Invest in People committee meeting on June 9th at 5:30pm at Mother of Christ Church in Winton Hills, or call CUFA’s office at 513-853-3947.

See below for more information from several different national news sources.

Protesters at JPMorgan Shareholder Meeting Demand Action On Foreclosures, Human Rights

JP Morgan CEO Touts Earnings Prospects At Annual Meeting

Protester handcuffed at Chase shareholders meeting

Protesters disrupt Chase meeting

JPMorgan boss Dimon rues military foreclosures

Protester Handcuffed at Chase Shareholders Meeting