3:56 PM Eastern - Monday, February 6, 2012

Baltimore residents, grassroots groups hold "Funeral for the American Dream" on Wells Fargo's doorstep #default

Good Jobs Better Baltimore Funeral for the American DreamMore than fifty black-clad neighborhood activists from Good Jobs Better Baltimore, 1199 SEIU, 32BJ SEIU, MoveOn.org and Occupy Baltimore held a "Funeral for the American Dream" in West Baltimore last Thursday. The activists say they wanted to shine a light on Wells Fargo's role in the decline of home ownership and safe communities.

The housing market collapse has hit Baltimore particularly hard, where Wells Fargo was the largest mortgage lender from 2005 to 2009. The foreclosure rate in African American neighborhoods was four times as high as in majority white neighborhoods. 

According to legal documents, Wells Fargo loan officers referred to the subprime loans they pushed on majority African American neighborhoods as "ghetto loans," and offered these bad loans at a rate of 47% to African American borrowers compared to just 10% of white borrowers, regardless of the credit history of borrowers. Many of these loans ended in bankruptcy and foreclosure, and the City found itself left to contend with 30,000 abandoned properties that could become magnets for crime and health hazards.

During the funeral, activists placed three caskets filled with symbols of the American Dream at a local Wells Fargo bank branch, including the American flag, pictures of vacant properties in devastated Baltimore neighborhoods, and miniature homes covered in "foreclosed" and "bank owned" tape.

More: Eighty-one photos from the day of action on Flickr.

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