South LA residents join coalition calling for responsible banking law in LA

imageBy Jacob Hay, Good Jobs LA

On Monday, residents from South LA communities joined activists from a broad coalition representing the 99% – including Occupy LA, ACCE, PICO/LA Voice, SEIU and Good Jobs LA – for a rally at city hall calling on LA city leaders to hold Wall Street banks accountable and pass the “Responsible Banking Ordinance.”

The law, being considered by the LA City Council’s Budget and Finance Committee, would publish a report card of bank activity – such as loan modifications to keep people in their homes and local investments to create jobs – so the public and city leaders will know which banks are helping or hurting Los Angeles communities in order to better guide banking relationships involving taxpayer dollars.

Overall, LA homeowners are estimated to lose $78.8 billion in home values as a direct result of the 200,000 foreclosures for 2008-2012.

imageForeclosures not only throw families out of their homes and sink home values in local communities, they cost governments and taxpayers significantly. The typical foreclosure costs local governments more than $19,229 for safety inspections, police and fire calls, and trash removal, and maintenance. In LA, theses costs are estimated to be $1.2 billion.

“After all the damage Wall Street Banks have done to our communities, shouldn’t our city keep a scorecard and stop doing business with the most irresponsible banks,” said Silvia Sanchez, an unemployed South LA resident and mother of four who recently lost her home to a Chase bank foreclosure. “LA should not spend one more cent of our money on banks that are needlessly throwing families out of their homes and cutting back on job-creating investments.”

The City Council’s Budget and Finance Committee is set to vote on the Responsible Banking Ordinance in January.

Activists “occupy” foreclosure auction


By Jacob Hay, Good Jobs LA

More than 50 activists organized by Occupy LA and Good Jobs LA disrupted Bank of America’s auction of 7,000 homes – including homes in South LA – at the Norwalk Courthouse. The protest took place last Friday, December 2.
As Bank of America sold the homes of LA families to the highest bidder, protestors chanted “banks got bailed out, we got sold out,” “keep LA families in their homes” and held signs declaring “we are the 99%”. Activists also set up tents – a symbol of the occupy movement – in middle of the auction.

“We are here to stop Wall Street banks from throwing people out of their homes,” said Laura Jamie, a South LA resident who attended the protest. “My community has already been devastated by the foreclosure crisis and today Bank of America is making the problem worse. I’ve heard them auctioning off homes in my own neighborhood – on streets I drive down every day.”

The group called for a moratorium on foreclosures and for Bank of America and other Wall Street banks to end the practices that crashed the economy and continue to hurt LA communities.

Children’s Court May Make Trials Public

Listen to an audio story by Annenberg Radio News

imageProtestors outside Children’s Court in Monterey Park on Tuesday want access to the hearings taking place inside.

Some came to the courthouse steps from Occupy LA, pitching two tents in the spirit of the downtown protest. Advocates, including several children and many parents, brought signs: “Children are also the 99%,” “DCFS, give us back our children” and “Community Heals: open children’s court” among their messages.

They say the courts that split up children and their families need to be accountable to the public. Right now, these cases aren’t seen by anyone but the people present – and according to protestor May Hampton, that means courts aren’t really seeking kids’ best interests.

“A lot of the public is not aware of what goes on, just like I wasn’t aware,” Hampton said. See, some of the children aren’t getting the help that they need. So they’re crying out. They’re calling to you, they’re calling to me. They’re calling all over the United States, maybe all over the world.”

Hampton wants people to see cases like hers. She helped her longtime friend Brittany care for her daughter from, literally, the day she was born. Brittany died last year. Her daughter took Hampton’s last name and began living with her full time. But the court barred Hamilton from the trial that sent the child to distant cousins in San Francisco.

Then, last month, Hampton lost her visiting rights. She still writes letters to her would-be daughter, but she’s not sure they’ll ever see each other again.

“I don’t have the words to express how we feel,” Hampton said. “I was shocked, because I thought Children’s Services was one of the best things, that they were there to protect children. But I see different.”

Judge Michael Nash, who presides over the county’s children’s courts, has already proposed a blanket order to open hearings.

Critics say opening courts isn’t the way to ensure accountability. After kids have already suffered, making their stories public will only traumatize them further.

The Department of Children and Family Services has not taken an official position on opening these courts.

South LA residents join Good Jobs LA march at Occupy LA

by Jacob Hay, Good Jobs LA


Hundreds of Occupy LA activists and about 100 South LA residents organized by Good Jobs LA marched in the downtown LA financial district while people around the country closed accounts at Wall Street banks on Saturday to support National Bank Transfer Day.

image“I’m tired of the way Wall Street banks are treating their customers and our communities, said Viviana Sepulveda, who closed her account at Bank of America on Saturday morning.

“After taxpayers bailed out Wall Street, the banks were supposed to lend money to small businesses, invest in our communities and create jobs. Instead, banks are continuing the same practices that caused this mess, failing to invest in jobs and putting people out of their homes,” she said.


“I’m retired and still doing my part to help my community. If these Wall Street banks don’t do their part, we’ll lose Medicare funding and in-home services for seniors and disabled,” said Doris Fletcher, a retired social worker, who closed a savings account with Wells-Fargo on Saturday morning. “The banks don’t care about us, so I’m moving my money to make a difference.”

Customers closing accounts on Saturday will transfer their funds into credit unions and other institutions that invest in communities and engage in more responsible practices.

imageSaturday’s march is part of a series of planned events in the downtown LA financial district to protest the corporate greed that is hurting local communities and killing good jobs. On November 9th, activists will march against budget cuts that threaten the jobs of teachers, firefighters and police.

On November 17th, hundreds will gather at a structurally deficient downtown LA overpass to protest Congress’ refusal to tax millionaires and wealthy corporations to pay for legislation that will create good jobs building LA.

Students Occupy LA

Jacob Hay, Good Jobs LA

More than 40 high school and middle school students from South LA, Compton and Inglewood, gathered at Occupy LA on Saturday to learn about the growing movement. The outing was organized by Good Jobs LA’s youth outreach program.

“I learned that a lot of people are struggling and about the inequality in our economy,” said Melissa Estrada student at Jefferson High School. “Wall Street corporations have all the money and they need to help fix our economy.”

“99% of the people are left with a scarce amount of money – and the top 1% has everything,” said Curtis Ray, a student at Lloyd High School. “They need to share some of that money. I’m working to do well in school but will there be good jobs for me? It’s too easy to be left behind.”


The students interviewed activists, participated in music and dance activities, stenciled arm bands and made their own protest signs. Students also shared their stories on the impact of the down economy, lack of jobs and budget cuts on their families and communities.

“Right now, it’s the 99% against the 1%,” said Shamvoy Smith, a student at Perry Middle School. People don’t have money for food, we’re losing teachers at school and we don’t have enough good jobs in our communities. We need to work together so that we make it 100%.”

Good Jobs LA has engaged more than 50,000 families in struggling LA communities on holding wealthy corporations accountable for fixing our economy and creating good jobs. In August, Good Jobs LA brought 230 high school students together for a two day youth leadership conference at UCLA. Saturday’s event was part of an ongoing effort to develop youth leaders in LA.