During Friday’s lunch hour, a group of about 30 demonstrators organized by the San Diego Coffee Party took to the streets of downtown, carrying signs and occasionally bursting into chants. They gathered at the park outside Horton Plaza and walked to regional offices of a handful of banks, stopping outside of Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Chase, and finally Citibank.
Led by nattily attired pseudo-bankers, the demonstrators shouted disturbing statistics about the banking industry and handed out leaflets detailing their claims. Among them: Homes in America are being foreclosed at the rate of one every seven seconds. The chairman of Wells Fargo made $26.6 million last year; the average bank teller’s pay was $21,392. Six banks (including the aforementioned and Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley) control wealth equivalent to 60 percent of the nation’s GDP. Flyers also detailed executive bonuses paid to banking executives, money the banks spent lobbying against regulation, and offshore subsidiaries established as tax havens.
Reception of the group was generally upbeat, as high-fives were exchanged with Greenpeace solicitors, cheers received from passersby, and honks provided by cars (and one enthusiastic truck driver). The only negative encounters involved an angry cabbie and a security guard for Citibank who attempted to chase off the group.
The Coffee Party formed in recent months as a response to the Tea Party, calling for many of the same reforms but pledging to do so in a different way: “We encourage deliberation guided by reason amongst the many viewpoints held by our members. We see our diversity as a strength, not a weakness...” (from coffeepartyusa.com).