Protesters Play Hockey on Broad Street to Protest Bank
Philadelphia-based community organizing group Fight For Philly staged a march through Center City yesterday afternoon in search of a bank to protest. And they found it in Wells Fargo on South Broad Street, where they set out to prove a point—by playing hockey.
“They took over some loan deals,” says Eric Alick, a member of the group, “and of course they got bailed out of the situation they were in. And they took $330 million of the school system’s money with them.”
If there’s one thing we’ve learned about Fight For Philly over the past year, it’s that they don’t let grudges go. Especially when it comes to Wells Fargo and the ‘bank swaps’ deal the bank set up with the city, in which, according to a report by the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, the financially-strapped Philadelphia school system lost about $332 due to the recession and deals they made with the bank. Philadelphia City Councilman Jim Kenney recently wondered aloud at a Council session if the city and schools can get any of that money back.
Asked about Wells Fargo’s recent move that will charge certain customers $7 a month to maintain a checking account, Alick said, while approaching the bank, “That just shows the greed of such a corporation. If I were a member of Wells Fargo I would take my money out of that bank.”
Once on South Broad Street, about 100 protesters, including members of Occupy, the Philadelphia Unemployment Project and others, began setting up small nets to play hockey for what they were called “The Thrilla in Phila.” Police blocked off Walnut to Sansom to let the demonstration go down. Five volunteers with FFP came out wearing orange Flyers jerseys which instead read “Wall Street Bullies” on the front, and names like “Greedsky” and “Stealy” on the backside. Everyone’s number was “1%.”
Then they began playing hockey against other members of the group (who represented the 99 percent) and won repeatedly to prove the point that the odds are stacked in favor of the rich.
Later on, street theater commenced, as a recurring FFP character they call “Mr. One Percent” came out, who played the owner of the Wall Street Bullies, making the sarcastic case that those in the one percent deserve to have it easy, because they’re the ones stimulating the economy, a point often repeated by conservatives and believers in “trickle down economics.”
“You say this,” said another member of the group as onlookers repeated his sentiments, “but just last week it was announced that Wells Fargo made record profits last year. Their 2011 income was $15.87 billion dollars and John Stumpf, the CEO of Wells Fargo, earned $17.9 million in 2011. That’s a $300 thousand raise.”
“Only 300,000? That’s not enough,” said Mr. One Percent. “Personally, I think that’s why they started charging $7 a month for the use of a checking account. Why use that money for dinner when you can help a 1 Percenter?”
Although many protesters were on hand for the demonstration, it remained calm and the security guards standing outside the bank even let Mr. One Percent go inside. He dropped off one of the hockey jerseys, it was said, for John Stumpf.