Thousands of protesters chanted "the banks got bailed out we got sold out" as they marched through the streets of Chicago on their way to a meeting of US bankers Tuesday.
Carrying signs proclaiming "Hold Wall Street accountable" and "Foreclosures ruin communities," they demanded an end to massive bonuses for the bankers who they say helped bring on the financial crisis and credit crunch which dragged the United States into the deepest recession since the Great Depression.
Organized by a coalition of union and community organizations, the protesters called on the bankers to stop lobbying against financial reform and to invest the trillions they received in government bailouts to stem the tide of foreclosures and invest in businesses which will help kickstart the economy.
"We love our country when you work hard and you're able to take care of your family," Andy Stern, president of the Service Employees International Union's Illinois office told the crowd gathered near a meeting of the American Bankers Association.
"The people (at the bankers' meeting) are people who love their company more than our country... Who love their bonuses more than our country."
Organizers said the American Bankers Association and six top banks have spent 35 million dollars fighting financial reforms after accepting 17.8 trillion dollars in taxpayer bailouts and backstops.