Faith Groups to Protest Bank of America, Wells Fargo

Faith, labor and community groups will join forces from New York City to San Francisco to protest the "harmful practices" of big banks starting Tuesday.

Thousands of people are expected to participate in the three protests over the next three days to demand financial reform.

The first protest will take place in San Francisco on Tuesday. Demonstrators will march through San Francisco's financial district and arrive at Wells Fargo's annual shareholder meeting to demand changes from the bank's top executives and call for an end to practices that hurt the average American while benefiting those responsible for the economic crisis.

"The business model of big banks seems to be to make money from squeezing their customers and Wall Street gambling without producing anything of value," said the Rev. Dr. Mario Howell, clergy leader with Contra Costa Interfaith Supporting Community Organization and the PICO National Network. "It's time banks become part of making the economy work, not just profiting off of our hard times."

Tuesday's protest at Wells Fargo was scheduled to coincide with what was expected to be the day the Senate took up the issue of financial reform. However, Senate Democrats failed Monday to garner the needed votes to start debate on Wall Street reform. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) will reportedly bring up the financial reform bill for another vote Wednesday, a Reid staffer told CNN.

Besides San Francisco, the grassroots movement will also take the protest to Charlotte, N.C., for the Bank of America annual shareholder meeting on Wednesday, and to Wall Street on Thursday.

An online campaign has also been organized alongside the in-person protests. PICO National Network, a faith-based community organization that works to solve problems of everyday Americans, has partnered with Faithful America to sponsor the "Our Money, Our Values" campaign.

The campaign's website collects the names and e-mail addresses of people who want to tell big banks "Not with our Money!"

"People of faith are working to make banks serve the needs of people – to help our families and communities, not hurt them," read the homepage of the "Our Money, Our Values" website. "We're organizing personal bank accounts, congregational investments, and even public dollars as leverage in negotiating with top bank executives to win the reforms our communities need."

Participants of all activities are calling for banks to stop using their money to fight financial reform efforts in Congress; stop evicting people from their homes unnecessarily; stop the business of payday and other predatory lending; and make good credit available to help rebuild the economy and put people back to work.

Pico National Network, one of the key organizers of this week's events, had joined with Faith in Public Life, Sojourners and the Center for Responsible Lending in December to denounce Wall Street bonuses and to call for greater protection for homeowners.

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