Bringing bankers to justice is an issue that unites across party lines. Despite this, the issue of justice for the 2008 crisis has been largely absent from the political narrative leading up to the election. Earlier this Spring, a group of activists set out to make some noise about this fact.
Background: The Mortgage Fraud Task Force
In January of 2012 during the State of the Union, President Obama announced a the Financial Fraud Task force, which was charged with investigating the crimes of the 2008 crisis. The task force, whose official name is the RMBS Working Group, was announced by the Department of Justice in late January.
However, despite a litany of recent scandals, including the unveiling of systematic bid-rigging at municipal bond auctions, news reports of deliberate mis-marking of books in JP Morgan’s “London Whale” fiasco, extensive revelations of LIBOR rigging, and Justice Department settlements with Wells Fargo over racist mortgage practices, we have still yet to see any high-level executives indicted for securities fraud, or other crimes committed in the lead-up and wake of the 2008 financial crisis.
We see settlements, we see fines, but we don’t see bankers behind bars. We are living in, as Glenn Greenwald says, a two-tiered justice system that grants immunity to the elites.
In order to draw attention to the lack of prosecutions, concerned citizens in New York conducted a series of actions.
Sit-in at Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office
On May 14th, 2012, an action was held outside and inside the lobby of the NY Attorney General’s office, calling attention to the lack of resources for the Mortgage Fraud Task force, with a group of activists asking “How can we help?”
From a report by JA Myerson for Truthout: “Inside the lobby of the building, 14 petitioners, mostly dressed in business outfits, sat in a circle on the floor and declared that they would leave when they had secured an agreement from the AG’s office for a public forum on the task force…As NYPD officers thoroughly outnumbering the sitting civilians confabulated with the building manager, the would-be investigators read their statement aloud in unison.”
Four activists were ultimately arrested in the action, which is four more than the number of high-ranking executives at major firms who have been arrested for crimes leading up the the 2008 crisis.
- Press: “NY Activists Ask AG ‘How Can We Help?’” by J.A. Myerson: http://truth-out.org/news/item/8947-ny-activists-ask-ag-how-can-we-help
- Press: RT Interview on AG Sit-in (Video) http://youtu.be/XWTkOG_UprY?t=14m5s
Counter-fundraiser for the Task Force at Obama fundraisers
Times Square Counter-Fundraiser
- Press: Protestors Plan Counter-Fundraiser (The Nation)
- Press: Outside Obama’s Fundraiser (Village Voice)
Counter-Fundraiser at Sarah Jessica Parker’s