Street Preacher Reverend Billy and Choir Director Charged With Rioting After Toad-Hat-Wearing Protest in a Chase Bank

Photo by Eric McGregor. Image via Facebook.
Reverend Billy and the choir mid-protest. Nehemiah Luckett is at left in the yellow shirt.
Two New York activists are facing a battery of misdemeanor charges, including rioting, for a fifteen-minute musical protest they staged at a Chase Bank in Midtown last month. They were wearing toad hats at the time.

For more than a decade, Reverend Billy and his Stop Shopping Gospel Choir were mostly concerned with, you know, shopping, wading into Macy's and Victoria's Secret and the Times Square Toys R Us to stage mock-religious revivals against consumerism. In recent years, the choir's activism has focused less on individual greed than on the corporate kind, with a special focus on business practices that ruin the environment.

"The shopping that matters most now is dirty coal, mountaintop removal, fracking and tar sands," Reverend Billy writes on the group's Facebook page. And for the past four years, the choir has also been staging protests at banks around the city, saying they're partly responsible for ruining the planet, particularly banks who finance that mountaintop removal, a controversial form of coal-mining.

As you can imagine, Reverend Billy gets arrested a lot.

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Occupy Heavily Monitored for Potential Criminal Activity, HSBC Slapped on the Wrist for Actual Criminal Activity

Categories: Banks, Occupy

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Apparently non-violent demonstration against corrupt banking is subject to more criminal scrutiny than actual corrupt banking.

Documents released by the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund Saturday show that the FBI identified Occupy Wall Street as a "potential criminal and terrorist" threat as early as a month before the OWS movement burst on the international scene with its initial occupation of Zuccotti Park in September 2011.

"These documents show that the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security are treating protests against the corporate and banking structure of America as potential criminal and terrorist activity," Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, executive director of PCJF, said in a release . "These documents also show these federal agencies functioning as a de facto intelligence arm of Wall Street and Corporate America."

The release of the documents comes a few weeks after federal and state authorities, including the Department of Justice and the New York East District Attorney's Office, announced a $1.9 billion settlement agreements with British-based bank, HSBC, for allowing major drug cartels and entities with economic sanctions and terrorist ties to launder money through the bank.

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Bank of America Slammed With Federal Lawsuit for "Doing the [Mortgage Fraud] Hustle"

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In more long-awaited fallout from the mortgage crisis, Federal prosecutors today sued the Bank of America and Countrywide Financial for a scheme to defraud the government via a program called "The Hustle."

Yes, they called it "The Hustle." Its purpose: allegedly to process home loans at high speed with quality control. Its effect: the creation of thousands of fraudulent or bad home loans, which led to more than $1 billion in losses and countless foreclosures, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney's office.

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Brooklyn Soon To Be Home To World's Most Humongous Barclays Logo

The indefatigable Norman Oder -- at least, we've never seen him defatigued -- reported yesterday on his Atlantic Yards Report that Brooklyn's new Nets arena is about to get a "honking big" Barclays logo on its roof. This is normal and expected for roofed sports facilities these days (check out the lid on Newark's Prudential Center, for example), except that "honking big roof logo" apparently was never mentioned in the design guidelines that arena builder Bruce Ratner presented to the state in 2006. At the time, the roof was going to be a Frank Gehry-designed green space; now that it's instead a big expanse of white metal, apparently the state Empire State Development Corporation, which owns the arena site and oversees the project, gave the okay for logorifficness.

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Mitt Loves N.Y., Special Edition: Bob Diamond

In a special edition of 'Mitt Loves N.Y.,'  we are taking our coverage overseas to report on an event that almost happened. It was a story that, thankfully for Mitt, went ignored for the most part by the lamestream media.

With a tip-off from the Voice's Steven Thrasher, we stumbled across a little dinner that the Romney's had put together with a plate price tag of $75,000. But here's the strange part: it was in London... during the Olympics (the family will already be there to support Ann's $77,000 horse, Rafalca, who is running with the U.S. equestrian team).

Now, Presidential fundraising abroad is not exactly unusual: in 2008, Rudy Giuliani, Candidate Obama and Bill Clinton all had donor get-togethers in other countries. Even this past Fourth of July, Valerie Jarrett, Obama's senior adviser, had a big ticket event for the President in Paris. One must remember that only U.S.-born citizens can contribute to elections, according to the FEC. The dinners mentioned above were targeted at U.S. ex-pats, who still can technically donate to a campaign. 

As we have seen repeatedly in our series, the SuperPACs do not abide by civil law: the organizations live by their own rules; a set of windy provisions that are unclear due to the ambiguous Supreme Court decision in Citizens United. And, for that reason, it was reported in February that about 6.4 percent of donations to the major SuperPACs were from unknown and untraceable sources.

Except, for this now-revoked dinner invitation, the source of cash was absolutely clear. The maitre'd's name was Bob Diamond and, as of this past Tuesday, he is resigning from the CEO position of Barclays due to a Parliamentary investigation into the bank's bogus lending practices and fixed interest rates. And so the story begins.
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Outside Obama's Broadway Fundraiser, Some Ask Where The Money To Investigate Financial Fraud Is

Protesters march on Obama's fundraiser yesterday to demand he conduct real investigations into financial fraud.
Barack Obama was in town last night for a series of fundraising events, including one at the New Amsterdam Theater in Times Square.

A coalition of activists demanding accountability for the financial fraud that set off the economic crash used the scene of the president raising millions of dollars to return himself to office to call attention to a project that's sorely underfunded: the taskforce charged with investigating mortgage fraud by the nation's biggest banks.

"Before you can campaign, you have to do the people's business," said Nish Suvarnakar, an organizer with the Campaign for a Fair Settlement, who helped organize the evening's demonstration. "The campaigning and fundraising is going to go on, but we're not going to go away either."

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Cops: Morgan Stanley Banker Stabbed Cabbie, Used Racial Slurs

A top honcho at Morgan Stanley, William Bryan Jennings, has been charged with stabbing a Middle Eastern cabbie with a pen knife and using racial intimidation, cops say.

The banking behemoth says that the Americas co-head of fixed income and capital markets has since been put on leave, according to the New York Times.

Here's what supposedly went down: On Dec. 22., Jennings took a cab from a New York charity gala to his $3.6 million Darien, Conn. home. When he got there, he refused to pay the $200 fare, the cabbie claims. He's also said to have become abusive and started using racial slurs.

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Bank Robberies Have Almost Doubled in the Last Year in New York City

While the general message from the Bloomberg administration has been that crime is down, that people are healthier, that everything is groovy, the New York Times City Room blog reports on a crime increase in one area: Bank robberies in New York City nearly doubled from 2010, when there were 26, to 2011, when there were 44 armed incidents. Of course, this is still nothing like the gritty days of yesteryear (in 1979 there were 319 armed bank robberies). But still! To what do we attribute this increase, which, along with more man-on-bank crime, has brought us cinema-ready villains like the "Bouquet Bandit" (above, caught) and the "Dapper Bandit," a/k/a Dana Connor, pictured after the jump, who is still on the loose?

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Bank of America Prepared For OWS Anti-Foreclosure Actions, According to Memo

This internal memo from Bank of America to third-party contractors has been circulating around the Internet:

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It's regarding yesterday's Occupy Our Homes action, in which protesters reclaimed foreclosed properties. The memo, which actually does appear to be real, includes tips like "Your safety is our primary concern, so do not engage with the protesters" and "While in neighborhoods, please take notice of vacant BAC Field Services managed homes and ensure they are secured."

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Did You Use a Chase ATM Near Union Square in January or May?

Not a Chase ATM, though we'd probably avoid this one.
Two men have been arrested and face charges "including burglary, criminal possession of forgery devices, and larceny," reports the New York Times, for installing devices in card slots of 11 ATMs at four different Chase locations around Union Square. The men, Nikolai Ivanov, 31, and Dimitar Stamatov, 28, live in Quebec (they are from Bulgaria) and tried their skimming trick twice -- in January for five days, and then again in May, when Iordan Ivanov, Nikolai's brother, helped. Nikolai and Stamatov, who also face charges of identity theft, were arrested in May while trying to remove the skimming device they'd installed, which just goes to yet again prove that returning to the scene of the crime never pays (for criminals, that is).

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