Activists pushing for banking reparations throughout the city

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By Patrick Forrest

Activists lined up outside Chase Bank in downtown Chicago in order to demand billions in reparations to Black neighborhoods throughout the city or face massive protest.

Ja’Mal Green

Ja’Mal Green led the news conference, which has been viewed more than 60,000 times through his Facebook page, where he cited reports that showed Chase giving $7.5 billion in home loans between 2012 and 2018, but only 1.9 percent of these loans go to majority Black neighborhoods.

“Stop depositing your funds in Chase Bank immediately.” Green said. “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.”

Another level of concern brought about through the new called movement is the response many banking institutions had to the widespread looting that took place Sunday, May 31, with many locations drastically reducing the availability of services at neighborhood branches.

“J.P. Morgan Chase was founded with plantation money during slavery,” 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.”

Green is calling for Chase to give Chicago’s Black neighborhoods $1 billion in grants and $10 billion in loans. He wants grants to go to home buyer assistance, small business start-ups and the creation of an African-American-owned bank. Green was joined by Tiffany Harper, First Deputy City Treasurer, who backed Green’s call for immediate action from the industry at large.

“We hope that it is a first step in a call to action for the banking industry about the systemic racism issues that affect lending in the Black community,” Harper said.

Harper is calling for strengthening of the Community Reinvestment Act, the federal law passed in 1977 to ensure banks lend in all communities due to its inability to ensure adequate and equitable lending into Black communities.

Many financial institutions with wide disparities in lending between Chicago’s Black and white communities received high marks from federal regulators for their performance under the Community Reinvestment Act.

City Treasurer Melissa Conyears-Ervin and Illinois State Treasurer Michael W. Frerichs are planning to host a Juneteenth virtual town hall about reversing systemic racism in lending and Black disinvestment across the state of Illinois, which Harper says the CEOs of BMO Harris Bank and Northern Trust will attend, and to which other bank CEOs are invited.

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