Calling themselves “giant killers” the Colorado Progressive Coalition (CPC) announced a campaign of “organized chaos” against Wells Fargo Thursday morning for what the group said were the bank’s predatory practices and illegal foreclosures.
The campaign is one of many the group said it plans to tackle over the next 12 months, including a payday lending initiative, foreclosure legislation and an effort to fight the reinstatement of some Denver police officers.
Jason McKain, CPC’s co-executive director, said the group was planning a number of protests against the mortgage giant that would include acts of civil disobedience they hope will bring media attention and reforms. With plans of starting their campaign later this month, he said it was his hope that if arrests were made against protesters that the Bank’s executives would be placed in the same cell as him so they can work out the terms of an agreement.
“I can tell you that we can understand that Americans and our customers demand more from us in these difficult times,” said Cristie Drumm, Wells Fargo’s Colorado spokesperson.
“We are committed to helping people who are in financial distress, and we always welcome the chance for dialogue with customers and the public. We want to hear from people.”
She said no one from the Colorado Progressive Coalition had contacted her, but she didn’t know if they had talked to other people at the company.
McKain spoke at an annual Colorado Progressive Coalition fundraiser attended by over 300 progressive advocates and state legislators, issuing policy challenges to Colorado and the country. In addition to banking reforms, the group called for the dismissal of recently reinstated police officers Devin Sparks and Randy Murr who were captured on video beating Michael DeHerrera and Shawn Johnson. The organization has called for the adherence to former Denver Manager of Safety Charles Garcia’s dismissal of the officers. The city is currently appealing the reinstatement of both officers.
The CPC also told donors that in light of payday lending industry attempts last year to roll back legislative reforms, they would likely be working on an initiative that would take payday lending regulations out of the hands of legislators and put them into the hands of voters in a 2012 ballot initiative.
Corrine Fowler, the economic justice director for the Colorado Progressive Coalition, told the Colorado Independent that a poll conducted two years ago in Colorado saw a similar initiative earning a 68 percent voter approval rating.
She said this year the group would also be working with lawmakers to pass legislation that protects homeowners from unwarranted foreclosures.
Rep. Mark Ferrandino, who was in attendance at the breakfast and has worked with the CPC in developing payday lending reform, told the Colorado Independent he was glad to see such a large turnout for the event and said the organization had been a boon for Colorado’s rarely heard voices.
“I think it is great to see this many people come out to help support the work this organization does. Fighting down at the Capitol to help prevent foreclosure, the organizing in the streets, making sure that the people’s voices that are not always heard are heard both at the Capitol and the streets,” Ferrandino said.
Asked about a possible payday lending initiative, Ferrandino said it was unlikely stronger legislation could get through the Legislature, but he said he believed an initiative would have the support of the people.
“I think we got a fair bill. Would I like to have seen it go further? Of course” Ferrandino said. “I don’t think that we could get anything stronger through the Legislature but I do think that if the coalition wants to [run an initiative]…I think that there is the support of the people and we will see what [the coalition] wants to do.”