Elk Grove Protesters Rally Against Big Banks

Protesters march along Laguna Blvd.  ‘Banks go bailed out, we got sold out’ As part of a national demonstration organized by MoveOn.org...

Protesters march along Laguna Blvd. 
‘Banks go bailed out, we got sold out’

As part of a national demonstration organized by MoveOn.org, a spirited group of protesters met in Elk Grove this morning to express their displeasure with large banking organizations.

As an offshoot of the Occupy Wall Street and the Occupy Elk Grove movement, today’s “Make Wall Street Pay” protest was specifically targeted with the message to close accounts at the big bank and move it to a credit union. Today’s protest was held near Franklin Blvd. and Laguna Blvd. – the site of three large banks; Bank of America, U.S. Bank and Wells Fargo.

The protest started at the Bank of America branch with the two dozen participants marching across the street to the U.S. Bank and Wells Fargo branches. Along the way Occupy Elk Grove organizer Todd Elving led the protesters by shouting “Banks got bailed out” with the rest responding “We got sold out.”

While many have sought to portray the protesters nationally as jobless malcontents, particularly in the recent Oakland demonstrations, several members of the Elk Grove demonstration stressed they were employed and were peacefully demonstrating. When the group approached the Wells Fargo branch with a full-throated chant underway, one of the protesters reminded everyone to stay on the sidewalk because, as she said, they “promised the chief [Elk Grove Police Chief Robert Lehner] we would stay on the sidewalks.”

While the main focus of this protest was directed at large banks which were at the center of the credit crisis which led to the Great Recession, most all of those in attendance had other grievances with the current economy and state of the nation. Typical of those was Elk Grove resident Laurie Comstock.

Self-employed, without current health insurance and a few years to young for Medicare or Social Security, Comstock said she had her house foreclosed by U.S. Bank and is quite upset with politicians.

“I am angry at the politicians, they sold us out,” Comstock said. “Lungren especially, he is for big business, not us.”

Comstock said she has always worked and paid her fair share of taxes. “I’d like the wealthy to pay their fair share of taxes,” she added.

While the message was serious, the protesters nonetheless also found levity in their actions. Organizer Elving joked that perhaps the a new political party called the “99’ers” could be formed to recognize the 99 percent mantle which has been at the center of the protest movement as well as Highway 99 which has been part of the Occupy Elk Grove’s movement.

One protester who also attended the mass Oakland demonstrations earlier this week was Elk Grove resident Malik Abdul-Khaliq who said he was encouraged by not only the national movement, but the support protesters heard from car honks at the busy intersection.

Abdul-Khaliq, an adjunct professor of Ethnic Studies at Sacramento State said that people are being pinched and that the movement represents a watershed moment. “We are witnessing people power,” he noted.

Although it is unclear how many people will close their bank accounts and go to credit unions, the middle-aged commercial sign-waving man the protesters march passed at the corner Laguna and Franklin shouted words of encouragement. “I switched to a credit union,” he said while waving a “We buy gold” sign.

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