Chanting "banks get bailed out, we get sold out," the group, made up of members of several organizations, entered the Chase lobby at 10 S. Dearborn in Chicago's Loop and delivered a letter for Chase Bank's CEO. Their message: renegotiate deals with the state of Illinois and help agencies like the Chicago Transit Authority maintain and improve service.
"It is not right to force the CTA to balance its budget on the backs of low income residents," Elizabeth Parisian, Refund Transit Coalition, said. "We are calling on Chase and other banks to renegotiate the deals so the public transit system that so many of us rely on can get the funding it needs."
The rally coincided with others across the country at other banks.
A report released by Refund Transit says the state of Illinois is paying $88 million for money that was borrowed years ago. The group claims that if the deals were renegotiated with current rates, which are lower, more money could go to the states' and cities' budgets, and ultimately local services.
"It's time to make the banks pay and refund money," said Javier Perez, Amalgamated Transit Union.
"They're basically got the money and got bailed out and now they get our money, it is a disgrace," said Amisha Patel, Grassroots Collaborative. "They need to negotiate it because it could mean $88 million for public transportation funding in the state."
Protesters said the deals were offered years ago to municipalities when rates were higher. At the time, locking into those rates made fiscal sense. But they say with the dramatic shift in the economy and a drop in interest rates banks should renegotiate with today's rates near zero.
A spokeswoman for Chase was working to confirm the report's findings but did not get back to ABC7.
ABC7 also reached out to the state of Illinois and CTA for comment but received no response.