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Published: Tuesday, 5/17/2011

Protesters, police, heavy rain greet Chase shareholders trying to get into meeting


COLUMBUS — Shareholders trying to get into JPMorgan Chase&Co.'s annual meeting held Tuesday in this mid-western city were greeted by heavy security and groups of 30 to 40 protesters outside every entrance.

Police had each entrance blocked ahead of the meeting, as hundreds of protesters gathered in the rain and cold chanting slogans such as "Make Banks Pay" and carried signs that said: "Chase gets rich, we lose homes, jobs, services." At least 20 police cruisers circled the building.

Chase, headquartered in New York, is holding its annual meeting in Columbus for the first time. Along with all the major banks in the country, Chase has been criticized for its handling of mortgage foreclosures.

The protests were organized by The New Bottom Line, a coalition of clergy and unions, which is pushing for action and legislation around banking practices that hurt troubled homeowners.

Annual shareholder meetings of large banks routinely draw protesters. However, security this year has been especially tight after Wells Fargo&Co.'s annual meeting on May 4 in San Francisco became a rowdy scene after hundreds protested outside. Inside the meeting, a group of shareholders demanded that the bank immediately stop foreclosures and waive principal for troubled home owners. The shareholders were escorted out of the meeting by police.

Eight people were arrested for blocking entrances to the building.

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