Five Chicago women were arrested at a downtown Chicago Bank of America branch Tuesday after they dumped bags of trash from foreclosed properties into the bank and refused to exit the building.
Gloria Washington, 80, Donna Roberts, 56, Annie Harris, 76, Doris Strickland, 68 and Madeline Talbot, 61, all Chicago residents, walked into the Bank of America branch just before 12:30 p.m. Tuesday carrying bags of trash collected from vacant foreclosed homes on the West Side, as part of a demonstration organized by Take Back Chicago.
According to Action Now, an advocacy group that helped organize the protest, a clean-up crew spent the morning collecting garbage and furniture from a Bank of America-owned vacant property in Garfield Park to deliver "to its rightful owners."
Meanwhile, more than a hundred protesters descended upon the downtown bank after marching from the Hyatt Regency, where a picket line and occupation at the seat of the Mortgage Bankers Association conference resulted in about 20 peaceful arrests. Police and organizers directed demonstrators to march peacefully around the bank, but once bags of garbage and a dilapidated chair and sofa labeled "Property of Bank of America" were delivered to the bank's main entrance, people crowded around the building, pressing their signs up to the window.
Washington, Roberts, Harris, Strickland and Talbot entered the bank through the main entrance, where several police officers were waiting for the planned demonstration. The women walked up to the windows facing Adams and LaSalle and emptied their bags, filled with empty snack food bags, cigar wrappers, a broken doorknob and several unwrapped condoms. (Scroll down for photos.)
Three officers approached the women, who locked arms and surrendered their bags and purses to the officers. One younger woman shook out the remaining garbage in her tote bag and propped up a flier advertising the protest's goals before handing over her canvas tote bag, as a crowd three rows deep pressed up against the window cheered.
"They're gonna arrest those old ladies, and all they want is their houses back," one protester said. "They're tired of living this way."
Officers removed the women from the front window to the back of the bank, which had been closed during the commotion. At least three of the women were handcuffed near a separate entrance towards the back of the bank, where Bank of America employees were positioned to keep onlookers away from the scene.
The women were marched through the hallway of the attached building and escorted into a police van in an alley behind the bank, where at least eight Chicago Police officers were positioned around the van fending off a small crowd of protesters in Action Now T-shirts. Action Now's Communications Director Aileen Kelleher says the women are currently being held at the police station at 18th and State streets.
Uniformed police officers cleaned up the trash dumped inside the bank as protesters left the bank, marching towards Millenium Park's Cloudgate sculpture for another demonstration. Kelleher says organizers have been told the women will be released soon.
Check out photos of Tuesday's Bank of America demonstration below:
For more on Take Back Chicago, Occupy Chicago and other demonstrations, follow HuffPost Chicago's live blog here. For more photos from the rallies, click here:
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