WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- Corneilus Blakeney of White Plains, thrust a sign reading "money is not free speech" and chanted "hold the banks accountable" in unison with the 15 other protesters lined outside of the Main Street Bank of America Thursday.
Blakeney, 45, a sanitation worker, said he attended the rally to draw attention to the subprime loans and mortgage securities trading, which he blames for the 2008 financial collapse. He joined others in urging President Barack Obama to allow the attorney general to fully investigate banks' foreclosure and mortgage practices.
"I stopped by here because there's a lot of corruption. They need to give the money back to the people," Blakeney said of his desire to see taxpayers benefit from the $45 billion bailout the bank has since repaid the government for. "Just help us."
The White Plains man said he's considering withdrawing his money from Bank of America and opening an account with Chase.
"It's one of the worst offenders, Bank of America," said Blakeney.
A Bank of America press representative declined to comment on the protest.
Marjorie Morales, a New Rochelle organizer for the political action group MoveOn.org , came with a petition destined for the White House.
"We dont want a slap on the wrist. We want them to be fully investigated and criminal charges to be brought if appropriate," Morales said of the banks. "Three hundred-fifty thousand people across the county have been foreclosed upon and many of those were illegal. We also want the banks held accountable for the crises that we find ourselves in due to the 2008 collapse."
Some attendees, including Donald Brundage, 59, of Tuckahoe, said they were disappointed with the turn out.
"Were trying to wake people up to whats going on," said Brundage, who has been unemployed for nearly three years. "Most of the people walking down this street aren't millionaires. This is about them."
Brundage said he would like to see more thorough investigation of banks and stricter loan and trading regulations. However, he said his diagnosis of a "broken political system" was the greater impetus behind his attendance.
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