Protesters demanding a one-year moratorium on foreclosure evictions in Cook County marched at
a downtown Citibank branch Wednesday morning with couches, chairs and pillows in tow.
"Today we're standing with the people that have had their homes foreclosed on. We're here to say that housing is a human right and it should be called a banking crisis instead of a housing crisis," said Chris Poulis with the group Communities United Against Foreclosure and Evictions.
Some of the marchers said they are facing foreclosure themselves.
"They are giving us the bait-and-switch. They are taking our hard-earned tax dollars and funneling it through a system that is not working," foreclosure victim Justina Winfrey told those gathered outside the bank branch at LaSalle and Madison streets.
There, demonstrators attempted a bit of street theater, setting up a mock living room in front of the Citibank branch. That's when police intervened.
More than 100 protesters, including those with the Chicago Anti-Eviction campaign and Occupy Chicago, then marched to Daley Plaza, where they petitioned Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart to enact a moratorium on for-profit foreclosures.
Marchers said there is a direct link between NATO and the housing crisis.
"NATO is an organization that we as a community are spending a lot of tax dollars on," said Micah Philbrook of Occupy Chicago. "The United States itself has given over $800 million to NATO in tax funding, and we think that money could be better spent in our own communities, such as keeping people in their homes."
At another Citibank branch, at 69 W. Washington St., near Daley Plaza, several demonstrators dumped some of the furniture in the bank lobby.
Police on bikes kept a safe but watchful distance from protesters, and there were none of the shouting matches seen Tuesday night between Bridgeport residents and demonstrators, or the arrests that took place during Tuesday's immigration protests.
"Any kind of violence is always an exception," said Rorey Fanning of United Against Foreclosures. "This movement is largely peaceful. Unfortunately people like to focus on the exception as opposed to the rule."
The group carried a petition they said includes thousands of signatures calling for the moratorium.