“Shame on you FDIC” was the rallying cry Nov. 1, when a contingent of West Side organizations and activists protested the recent closing of Park National Bank. On Friday, Oct. 30, Park National Bank was taken over by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation was named receiver. The FDIC entered into an agreement with US Bank of Minneapolis, Minn.

Nine banks nationwide were involved in this transaction.

Park National officials had requested an extension of one week to raise the needed capital. Ironically on the same day of the closure, U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner was in Chicago to announce the awarding of $50 million in tax credits to Park National. Despite the efforts of Congressman Danny Davis, Congressman Bobby Rush, Senator Roland Burris, Oak Park Village President David Pope and others who were present at the Geithner event, Park National changed to US Bank on Friday morning.

West Side organizations South Austin Coalition (SAC) and Westside Health Authority (WHA) combined their efforts for an FDIC protest rally and march. Jackie Reed, CEO/president of Westside Health Authority, said, “We are here to let FDIC know, let Obama know this bank hasn’t failed. He knows our neighborhood, he knows our needs, we’ve had too many foreclosures, we’ve lost too many jobs on the West Side, we want to get our bank back home. That is why we are here today.”

State Rep. LaShawn Ford, Rev. Ira Acree, SAC’s Bob Vondrasek and Elce Redmond, Virgil Crawford, and Rev. Johnny Miller were some of the participants in the protest.

When asked about bank president Michael Kelly, Reed said, “We are here to help Mr. Kelly because Mr. Kelly has helped us. Now we don’t know if Mr. Kelly wants us out here doing this or not, but this is not about Mr. Kelly. This about our community. This is about our jobs. Mr. Kelly has been here for us and whether or not he is here with us, we’re going to be here for him. We’re looking at something like 80 jobs and 1,200 houses that they were going to build.”

Virgil Crawford, a director at Westside Health Authority, said, “Today, in a real sense, we are not fighting for Mr. Kelly. We’re fighting for ourselves and our community. He has done so much for us. He has invested back into the community. He helped us build our churches and other organizations do housing.

Rev. Marshall Hatch added, “To abandon Park National Bank is, in essence, abandoning ourselves. We cannot do it to our community. The way Mr. Kelly has run his bank has been the epitome of how community banks should be run, not only in Chicago but across the length and breadth of this country. If we don’t fight for us, who will fight for us? This is really a national issue; it’s a disgrace. … We asked them to invest in our communities, hire people from the community, help build houses, faith organizations, be accessible to the people. Park National Bank did all of this and the most bizarre part of this whole scenario, on the day the FDIC gave away this bank that invested heavily in the community, the U.S. Dept. of Treasury was awarding Park National $50 million in tax credits because of its stellar work in the community. There has been no explanation as to why this bank did not get a seven-day extension after having investors lined up to save this bank.”

Hatch posed this question, “If the FDIC is not interested in decentralizing banking resources so that it becomes more accessible to the people, then what are they good for? They need to come to the West Side of Chicago and explain why the taxpayers’ money was not used to help a bank that has invested so heavily in the community and been a national model. They need to explain this to us.”

Rev. Hatch had a letter to present to the FDIC officials. After several discussions with security and Chicago police, who were called, finally Assistant Regional Director Diane Fear came to the lobby where everyone was gathered and talked with West Side members. A tentative meeting was planned for next week.