Activists in Chicago are demanding that JP Morgan Chase, America’s biggest bank, pay billions of dollars in reparations to Black neighborhoods throughout the city or face massive protests.
The bank announced today that it had beaten analyst estimates with profits of $9.4 billion, according to Telegraph Business.
Chase has discriminated against Black people in Chicago, especially those in Black neighborhoods, according to local activist Ja’Mal Green, 24.
Green recently held a news conference listing demands. The video of that news conference has been viewed more than 60,000 times through his Facebook page. He claims that Chase has discriminated in lending against majority-Black neighborhoods.
“Stop depositing your funds in Chase Bank immediately.” Green urged the community. “We’re going to be announcing massive protests all throughout our city, starting here at Chase Tower and at Chase Banks all throughout the city of Chicago. We want every Chase shut down in this city until they come to the table.”
WBEZ — Chicago’s NPRstation — and a City Bureau investigation revealed that the “bank invested nearly 80 percent of its home loan dollars in Chicago’s white communities and just 1.9 percent in the city’s Black neighborhoods between 2012 and 2018. That was the widest racial disparity in home purchase lending of any major financial institution,” WBEZ reported.
Green — a 2018 mayoral candidate — and a small group of protesters began demonstrating outside Chase branches in September after that investigation was reported.
“We started by looking at the numbers—and what the numbers could have been. What WBEZ showed was that if Chase had been lending just at what the rest of the market was lending, which was like 8 percent, then our communities would have gotten $89 million each year since 2012. And if Chase was doing in our neighborhoods what they had been doing in a white neighborhood like Lincoln Park, then we would have gotten hundreds of millions of dollars every year since 2012,” Green told The Nation.
Activists say that the company was built with slave labor and profited from it. They are demanding reparations.
“J.P. Morgan Chase was founded with plantation money during slavery,” Chicago hip-hop artist and activist Jalen Kobayashi said. “All of these different banks are hoarding all of this money and when our neighborhoods are looted they don’t have any of the cash that we’ve put in. I’ve had to go to multiple locations and there were no deposits, no cards, nothing.”
On Twitter, some agree. “These banks should be the ones paying reparations they funded us being brought here, they sold insurance on slaves which made a lot of people rich” Malik Rasul @JustKing93 tweeted.
Green wants Chase to give Chicago’s Black neighborhoods $1 billion in grants and $10 billion in loans. He also wants grants to go to homebuyer assistance, small business startups and the creation of an African-American-owned bank, The Chicago Crusader reported.
Green, whose protests have resulted in temporary shutdowns of three Chase branches, has now been barred by the bank from all Chase property.
“Over the past several weeks, our customers and employees have expressed serious concerns about their safety because of your actions at our branches,” Chase’s Global Security department told Green in an unsigned letter emailed to him. The letter threatens legal action if Green does not “stay off and away from any and all” Chase properties. Chase alleges that video shows “physical harassment of customers attempting to enter branches and ATMs,” which Green calls a “blatant lie.”
The letter continued, “Over the last month, we have held a number of constructive calls and meetings with you to discuss our shared commitments to Chicago’s South and West sides. We will continue to work with community leaders on ways to address long-standing racial disparities in these neighborhoods.”
The protests against Chase are growing in the Windy City.
In May, amidst the George Floyd protests rocking the U.S., JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon declared that the pandemic was a “wake-up call to address inequalities.”
The company announced this month that it would spend $30 billion over the next five years as part of a new commitment to address the racial wealth divide and reduce systemic racism — although there was no mention of the inequalities in lending in Chicago.
The money is not enough, some Twitter respondents said.
“$30 billion is the amount of fines they pay for rigging markets, insider trading, securities violations and fraud. Oh wait, that’s Goldman Sachs. No wait, that’s Wells Fargo. I meant Deutsche Bank. Oops I meant Citibank. If they wanted to close the wealth gap they should fold up” Scott Livingston @LivingstonNano tweeted.
Chase bank also promised to hire more than 4,000 Black students over the next five years and provide 1,000 men of color over the next 10 years with skills for greater economic opportunity, MarketWatch reported.
“Systemic racism is a tragic part of America’s history,” Dimon said. “We can do more and do better to break down systems that have propagated racism and widespread economic inequality, especially for Black and Latinx people. It’s long past time that society addresses racial inequities in a more tangible, meaningful way.”
Among the banks’ new commitments are: originate an additional 40,000 home purchase loans for Black and Latinx households by committing $8 billion in mortgages, lower mortgage payments for an additional 20,000 Black and Latinx households by committing up to $4 billion in refinancing loans, and provide $14 billion in new loans, equity investments and other efforts to finance an additional 100,000 affordable rental units.
Chase said it will commit $2 billion to provide an additional 15,000 loans to small businesses in majority-Black and -Latinx communities.
Listen to GHOGH with Jamarlin Martin | Episode 73: Jamarlin Martin Jamarlin makes the case for why this is a multi-factor rebellion vs. just protests about George Floyd. He discusses the Democratic Party’s sneaky relationship with the police in cities and states under Dem control, and why Joe Biden is a cop and the Steve Jobs of mass incarceration.
“We have a responsibility to intentionally drive economic inclusion for people that have been left behind,” Brian Lamb, head of diversity and inclusion, told MarketWatch. “The covid-19 crisis has exacerbated long-standing inequities for Black and Latinx people around the world. We are using this catalytic moment to create change and economic opportunities that enhance racial equity for Black and Latinx communities.”
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