FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. - The Community Reinvestment Association of North Carolina and the state's chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People have planned a protest today of Citigroup Inc.'s deal to buy Associates First Capital.

The protesters plan to hold torn red umbrellas outside an Associates branch in Fayetteville. The umbrella was the symbol of Citigroup chief executive officer Sanford I. Weill's old company, Travelers Corp., which merged with Citicorp two years ago.

"The promises of Citigroup to clean up the Associates are about as good as these torn-up umbrellas," said Peter Skillern, president of the Community Reinvestment Association.

Consumer activists have threatened to mount the biggest predatory-lending protest ever to fight Citigroup's deal for Associates, which was announced last month.

Activists say they worry that Associates, whose lending practices they have attacked, would be sheltered by Citigroup's brand. Citigroup has also been accused of abusive and discriminatory lending.

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