Petition Pushes Feds to Probe Wall Street Banks

More than 360,000 people have signed petitions calling for a federal investigation into Wall Street banks.

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ColorOfChange.org recently made headlines when it pushed MSNBC to remove Pat Buchanan from the air for promulgating white-supremacist ideology as political commentary. Now it has turned its attention to Wall Street.

Part of a coalition of advocacy and public-interest organizations, the group recently delivered more than 360,000 petition signatures to the Obama administration, calling for a full federal investigation of Wall Street banks and their role in the housing crisis.

"For us, we understand the impact the housing crisis has had on black people and black communities," Rashad Robinson, executive director of ColorOfChange.org, told The Root. "Black wealth is at its lowest rate in nearly 25 years. All the while, bank CEOs who got a huge taxpayer bailouts ended up with bonuses and parachutes as they foreclosed on millions of people around the country."

The coalition consists of MoveOn, CREDO Action, Progressives United and New Bottom Line. The groups began their campaign earlier this month by calling on the Obama administration to hold Wall Street banks accountable for their role in creating and profiting from the country's housing crisis, which has displaced an estimated 7 million families from their homes, according to Robinson.

"The housing crisis and the economic downturn it triggered has hit black people and people of color particularly hard," Robinson said in a news release. "The mortgage industry targeted prospective home buyers with toxic loans and ballooning interest rates, and engaged in systemic predatory lending and mortgage fraud. We cannot remain silent and we cannot accept a settlement that lets the banks responsible for this crisis off the hook."

According to Robinson, the coalition's goal is convince the Obama administration to commit to a full investigation into the action of banks and the damage they've done to consumers instead of pursuing a settlement agreement that would let big banks off the hook. The settlement proposal being negotiated by banks, the federal government and state attorneys general would release banks from civil and criminal liability and ask them to pay for just a fraction of the overwhelming damage.

The ColorOfChange.org website cites a group of state attorneys general from New York, Delaware, Nevada, Minnesota, Kentucky and California who have said they will not agree to a settlement on matters that have not been investigated. California Attorney General Kamala Harris and Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto have gone a step further, initiating a joint mortgage-investigation alliance to assist homeowners who have been harmed by misconduct and fraud in order to bring state-based civil and criminal prosecutions, according to the site.

"The fight is to ensure that we do not have what happened [happen] again within the housing market, but also assuring any settlement is one that provides real relief to millions of people who are suffering," Robinson said.

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