Protesters descend on MBA
Roughly 150 protesters gathered at the Hyatt Regency in Chicago Monday afternoon, protesting the Mortgage Bankers Association as some of the the trade group's members looked on and snapped photos. Thousands more from various groups organized around the city, including Daley Plaza and Federal Plaza. A pastor from a nearby suburb who identified himself as Russell, arrived at the Hyatt and picked up a sign from the Southsiders Organized for Unity and Liberation. It was a cardboard cutout of JPMorgan Chase (JPM) CEO Jamie Dimon that read: "Wall Street Bank Robber." The likenesses of Bank of America's (BAC) Brian Moynihan, Countrywide's Angelo Mozilo and others were also seen bouncing above the chants and a marching band. "Of my congregation of 270, about 30% are facing foreclosure," Russell said. "They come to me and my church, and we organize them and try to direct them to all the available programs and mediation sessions. But the banks continue to undermine that." While Russell said SOUL and other community groups have been organizing protests since 2005, the recent uprising from Occupy Wall Street and other areas rejuvenated them to try and catch a more unified wave of dissent. A SOUL organizer, who called himself Toby, made some final preparations for his speech through the megaphone. Even some curious MBA members gathered nearby on the hotel steps behind security to watch the crowd and listen to Toby. "While we are out here desperately looking for jobs, they're in there trying to figure out how to make more money off of us," he yelled into the megaphone. One mortgage banker, who wouldn't give her name, shook her head. "This is the wrong place to do this. We're trying to figure out how to help them." Others were more critical. Another banker pointed out to his colleague different union members he thought he saw in the crowd. Another scolded some protesters for bringing their children to the rally. One technology vendor, who wouldn't be identified, said he was sympathetic and that some previous members of this very trade group "got away scot-free." "There's just no jobs," he said. "What would you do?" Another banker, who also wouldn't give his name, said the recent wave of protests was even routine. Coming out of crises and recessions, there is always a wave of descent before the eventual recovery. The MBA itself put out a statement Monday morning in advance of the protest, highlighting the 3,000 members who assembled in Chicago to revamp the U.S. housing system. "We all recognize that our industry faces a trust deficit with policymakers and the public and that people in our industry contributed to the events that led to the financial crisis," the MBA said. "The mortgage professionals who have gathered in Chicago this week are about sustainable homeownership and ensuring access to affordable mortgage credit for qualified borrowers." Write to Jon Prior. Follow him on Twitter @JonAPrior.