WASHINGTON - More than 2,000 activists chanting "Predatory lender criminal offender" descended Monday on Philadelphia's financial district and the local offices of Norwest Financial Inc., Lehman Brothers, and Salomon Smith Barney.
"In all cases people got in to meet with senior executives at the Philadelphia branches," said Steven Kest, executive director of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, which arranged the protests as part of its twice-yearly convention.
Acorn claims that Norwest Financial is a predator outright and that it goes after the very customers who are unfairly denied credit by its affiliate, Wells Fargo & Co. The group says Salomon Smith Barney and Lehman Brothers help to finance companies that engage in this type of lending.
At Salomon Smith Barney, he said, the branch managers called supervisors in New York, who agreed to meet next week with Acorn representatives. At Norwest and Lehman Brothers, protesters had to settle for witnessing letters being faxed to the companies' head offices.
The protest concluded with a rally in front of the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, calling on the Fed to act against predatory lenders through the Home Ownership and Equity Protection Act of 1994. The protestors elicited no response from the Philadelphia Fed, Mr. Kest said, but had previously scheduled a meeting with Fed Governor Edward M. Gramlich for Thursday.
Acorn's march came one day after protesters appeared at the Philadelphia-area home of Advanta Corp. vice chairman and president William A. Rosoff, where they staged a symbolic foreclosure on his property.