What was supposed to be a routine gathering on technology is fast becoming a hotbed for democratic activity, as the Take Back Chicago street protests have targeted the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) conference taking place this week.
A coalition of labor unions and community groups, Take Back Chicago has an entire week of demonstrations planned, all with the emphasis on improving state and local jobs, homes and schools. The coalition was aided in its MBA protests by “Occupy Chicago,” an offshoot of the still-raging “Occupy Wall Street” protests in New York. In joining forces with Take Back Chicago, the massive group is upwards of 5,000 people.
Economic justice is the main rallying cry of the protests, and Chicago’s housing woes have quickly transformed the MBA conference into a symbolic target for the protestors’ anger.
“The government bailed the banks out on our backs, but they haven’t bailed us out,” said Thurlester Ibrahim, a member the Anti-Eviction Campaign, a community group in Chicago. “We’re losing our homes.”
Despite big increases in sales and marginally higher prices, foreclosures took a big swing last month, with mortgage defaults totaling more than 6,000 in August. Both the MBA and Illinois state government have made efforts to quell the protests. The MBA released a statement to the Wall Street Journal admitting culpability for the financial crisis, and Lisa Madigan, Illinois’ Attorney General, recently announced an investigation into “mortgage rescue companies,” groups that masquerade as fair housing attorneys and then pocket client’s money without providing any services.
But still, the protestors are not going gently into that good night, at least not yet.
“We must target additional revenue for investment in public services and critical infrastructure that will create jobs and stimulate private investment in job creation,” said Curtis Smith, President of Lakeview Action Coalition. “Serious living wage job creation is the fastest way to fix the economy – America is not broke, but our economy is broken.”