"Showdown In Chicago": Thousands Of Protesters Gather At Bankers' Convention, Jesse Jackson, Labor Leaders Speak (VIDEO)


(UPDATE: Scroll down for more original video from the protests)

Thousands of people gathered in Chicago today in front of the American Bankers Association annual convention to protest what they consider to be the group's long history of resistance to financial reform.

On the final day of a three-day protest directed at the banking industry's top trade group, civil rights leader Jesse Jackson addressed a crowd of what is reported to be more 5,000 people, along with did AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka, SEIU President Andy Stern and Secretary-Treasurer Anna Burger.

WATCH a video excerpt of of Stern's speech:

Called the "Showdown In Chicago," the rally was led by National People's Action, the Service Employees International Union and the AFL-CIO -- and featured numerous other organizations -- the protests focused on bank reform and the need to rein in the financial sector.

According to a release from the SEIU, a year after the financial crisis, the banking industry still has not been properly regulated. From its release:

"After taking $17.8 trillion in taxpayer bailouts and backstops, the ABA and the six largest banks have spent more than $35 million fighting Congressional action on financial reform. Meanwhile, ordinary Americans continue to face rising foreclosures, record unemployment, skyrocketing bank and credit card fees, and vanishing pensions and 401(k)s."

Yesterday, protesters marched to the Chicago offices of Wells Fargo and Goldman Sachs. They attempted to deliver a letter to Goldman Sachs officers demanding that that the bank donate some of its projected $23 billion bonus pool to help foreclosure victims. (Check out photos and video here.) The FDIC's chairman Sheila Bair addressed the protesters yesterday and added her support to the movement by decrying bailouts and the notion of "too big to fail" institutions.

WATCH an excerpt of Burger's speech:

In a statement to the Chicago Tribune, ABA executive vice president of membership Bob Schmermund defended his organization which, as The Huffington Post pointed out yesterday, has rallied hard against bank regulation for years.

Here is Schmermund's statement to the Tribune:

"These are very tough times. A lot of people lost their jobs, and they are very frustrated and they're very angry, What the protesters may not realize is who's attending this meeting. This room is literally filled from stem to stern with traditional bankers whose life's work is dedicated to serving the needs of their communities."

Check out the Huffington Post's coverage of yesterday's events here. Progress Illinois has links to a Flickr stream of shots from the protests.

UPDATED 5:27 p.m:

Alex Parker shot this video of the protest for the Huffington Post. In the below footage, a speaker leads the group through a prayer-like chant against the banking industry. "The greed is good era will end," the speaker says. "The end is near. These values that these bankers have are not the values that our country was founded upon..."


In this video, Parker spoke to two protesters who had more than one bone to pick with the banking industry. WATCH:

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