Knock, Knock, Knockin’ on Geithner’s Door
by Will Tanzman, Co-Director of SOUL (Southsiders Organized for Unity and Liberation)
From Saturday through Monday, a delegation of leaders represented IIRON at the National People’s Action (NPA) conference in Washington, DC. At the conference, more than 500 people from NPA affiliates across the country came together to share stories, strategies, and analysis, and to do actions on important elected officials and corporate executives.
The highlight for me was when 1,000 people went to the house of Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, one of the architects of the 2008 bank bailout who first gave trillions of dollars to the big banks and then did his best to protect them from investigation and accountability. It was clear that he was home but refused to come out and meet with us. We knocked on his door, sang “we shall not be moved” when he did not come out, and had homeowners in foreclosure testify on a bullhorn just a few feet from his house. We do not take lightly going to somebody’s house, but we have tried meeting with Geitner. He has refused to deal with the foreclosure crisis affecting the homes of millions of people, so we felt it was important to take this crisis to his doorstep. The Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal covered the action, so our voice was further amplified by the media attention we received. I have been angry at Geitner for three years, so it was great to get the opportunity to express my anger in a powerful and effective way.
The next day, hundreds of people packed the lobby of the Federal Housing Finance Administration. FHFA’s director, Ed DeMarco, is refusing to allow Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to reduce mortgage debt for millions of homeowners who owe the banks more than their homes are worth, because of the crisis caused by the big banks. When we walked in to ask for a meeting with DeMarco, the police demanded that we leave immediately. However, there were just 3 of them and 500 of us, so we called their bluff and chanted, sang, and testified inside FHFA’s lobby for more than half an hour before moving on to our next target.
It’s great to be part of NPA actions and to meet leaders and organizers from other groups across the country. Leaving the conference, I felt my home renewed that we can build a successful movement for economic justice in this country. Let’s bring a larger delegation next year!