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Protestors Arrested At Bank Of America Office In Springfield

By Paul Tuthill

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/wamc/local-wamc-994616.mp3

Springfield, MA – 15 people were arrested Monday in Springfield Massachusetts during a large protest over bank foreclosures. WAMC"s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill reports..

A protest march and rally in downtown Springfield Massachusetts Monday culminated when 15 people were arrested at a Bank of America office. Springfield Police Commissioner William Fitchet said the protestors were handcuffed and led away after one group sat down inside the bank and inside an ATM and refused to leave, while others blocked the bank doors. As the arrests were made inside, a group of about 250 demonstrators chanted outside.
Commissioner Fitchet said the protestors did not resist arrest. The demonstration at the Bank of America office followed a noon time march along several blocks of Main Street in downtown Springfield, and an earlier rally in front of several foreclosed homes.
The rally and march were organized by a group called Springfield No One Leaves. It attracted activists representing a number of organizations from throughout western Massachusetts , Boston, Worcester and Hartford. Paul Sehack of Pittsfield is with the Occupy Berkshires movement.
Springfield No One Leaves has been active for about a year. Its members show up at scheduled foreclosure auctions, and try to pressure banks to work with homeowners.
Malcolm Chu, an organizer with Springfield No One Leaves said he was very pleased with the turnout for the demonstration, calling it..a beautiful thing.
Also taking part in the rally and protest march were several people who said they were fighting to save their home from foreclosure. Imogene Jones of Springfield said she's currently underwater meaning she owes more on the mortgage than her home is worth on the open market.
Sellou Diaite, who is also facing forclosure, said the banks are not treating people fairly.
The Springfield City Council, this past summer, at the urging of housing activists approved an anti foreclosure ordinance. It requires mediation between a lender and a homeowner before a foreclosure proceeding can begin. It also requires banks to post a ten thousand dollar bond with the city for each foreclosure to help pay for the maintenance on the property. The Massachusetts Bankers Association has objected and claims the ordinance conflicts with state law.