Take Back the Land-Madison: The M&I Bank empire strikes back

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Take Back the Land-Madison

Monica Adams

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Take Back the Land-Madison condemns bank for pushing protester and evicting a homeless woman while M&I pursues more taxpayer bailout money

Madison, WI- Take Back the Land- Madison and other community organizations are condemning the controversial M&I Bank for two separate attacks against protesters. The groups are conducting a press conference in front of an M&I owned foreclosed duplex at 6304 Hammersley Road, Madison, WI on Thursday, May 12, 2011 beginning at 4:00pm.

On Wednesday, May 11, M&I Bank faced a “reverse Robin Hood” protest at their Capital Square branch. In response, employees briefly shut down the branch. As the action wound down, security re-opened one door and one of the protesters, UW student Karen Scott, attempted to enter as well. Instead of simply blocking her entry, an M&I employee shoved Scott before slamming the door shut again. “I told him again that I just wanted to make a deposit,” Scott recounted in an email. “He said something including ‘f*** you’ and then put his hands on my breasts and pushed me back a couple of feet.” The news was reported in the Cap Times (http://host.madison.com/news/local/grassroots/article_4cd61af4-7c88-11e0-88ac-001cc4c03286.html) and the shove was uploaded to youtube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=peyvHq1zoiY).

On Thursday, May 12, Take Back the Land- Madison planned a press conference to publicly unveil a newly “liberated” M&I owned foreclosed duplex. Over the past two weeks, a 19 year old homeless woman cleaned up the property and turned the vacant half of the duplex into a home. Upon hearing of the planned action, M&I Bank entered the home, changed the locks, installed an alarm system and hired their corporate security team to guard the unit 24 hours a day.

The same property was recently in the news when Robert McGee, the tenant renting the other side of the duplex, announced his intention to remain in his home in spite of the foreclosure. “It makes no sense to me to leave this property vacant again,” McGee said. “It felt good to have someone clean up the property, and bring some life to it for the past two weeks rather than let it sit and be another vacant eyesore in the community.”

As part of it’s mission to “elevate housing to the level of a human right,” Take Back the Land- Madison is demanding that the young woman is allowed to return to the home, that Robert McGee is allowed to renew his lease, and that the property be turned over to the Madison Area Community Land Trust in order to maintain the affordable housing.

M&I Bank still owes $1.7 billion in TARP bailout money while promising executives close to $70 million in golden parachutes as the institution transfers ownership to the Bank of Montreal. M&I Bank earned the ire of labor unions across the state for their financial support of Gov. Scott Walker, support seemingly only made possible by the tax dollars of workers and union members. While M&I evicted the homeless young woman, they recently requested even more taxpayer bailout money for themselves.

“In the spirit of the civil rights movement, we are deliberately and openly challenging immoral laws,” says Monica Adams of Take Back the Land- Madison. “M&I is taking public money and using it to create homelessness. If what we are doing is illegal and what M&I Bank is doing is legal, then that says more about the laws than it does about us.”

Take Back the Land- Madison is part of the national Take Back the Land- Movement of organizations dedicated to elevating housing to the level of a human right and securing community control over land.