Street theater? Maybe. Effective? Who knows? A group of clergy collected at the Park Avenue headquarters of JPMorgan Chase on Thursday in New York City, where they closed accounts at the bank as part of a campaign to push JPMorgan Chase to change its foreclosure policies and take action on the broader national plight of homeowners on the brink.
But they didn’t stop there. Rev. Allan Ramirez of the Brookville Reformed Church, in Brookville, N.Y., performed an exorcism, seeking to banish "the demons of selfishness, avarice and greed."
The Huffington Post reported that the exorcism was part of a campaign organized by New York Communities for Change, a group made up of elected officials, clergy and unions trying to change the way JPMorgan Chase handles foreclosures. The group was formerly the New York chapter of ACORN.
Ramirez was joined at the protest by other clergy members, among them Bishop Orlando Findlayter and Minister Patricia Malcolm of Churches United to Save and Heal, a coalition of more than 100 Brooklyn churches.
"JPMorgan Chase needs to be exorcised from the demons of selfishness, avarice and greed,” Ramirez said in a statement about the exorcism. “The people who bailed them out when they brought us to the brink of a world economic collapse are the very people whose mortgages they are foreclosing and throwing out on the streets into homelessness."
While the exorcism was unique, the group was not the first to use a very public account closure to send a message. In late February New York City Councilman Jumaane Williams, accompanied by a crowd of protestors, closed his account at one of the bank’s Chase retail branches on Park Avenue after denouncing JPMorgan Chase.
Malcolm said in a statement: "It is powerful when the community comes together to stand up and do something about the foreclosure and mortgage crisis.”
Chase has said that the bank is doing everything it can to help homeowners, although a recent study by New York Communities for Change found that only 6% of the New York homeowners who sought mortgage assistance from Chase have received modifications.
Read about JPMorgan Chase's 47% rise in most recent quarterly earnings statement at AdvisorOne.com.