Did an ACORN front group plan and execute last week's bizarre "Occupation" of a San Francisco Bank of America branch?
As you'll recall, nearly 100 people were arrested after storming into the bank, chanting slogans and attempting to setup camp indoors. Now, following this incident, some are wondering if an ACORN front group may have been behind the organized chaos.
We already know that the staged protest was organized, in part, by ReFund California, a group that describes itself as, "a state-wide coalition of homeowners, community members, faith leaders and students working to make Wall Street banks pay for destroying jobs and neighborhoods with their greedy, irresponsible and predatory business practices." This is the same group that also organized a protest at Cal State University last week.
But who is behind ReFund California? Among the coalition's "partners," which includes unions and like-minded groups, is the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE). This group, which is likely unknown to most, was covered in-depth in JudicialWatch's "The Re-branding of ACORN," a report that focuses upon covert, ACORN front-groups. Here's what the report had to say about ACCE:
ACORN CA has become the Alliance of Californians for Community
Empowerment (ACCE), incorporated on December 8, 2010. ACCE maintains seven offices in California. According to Secretary of State records, the registered agent of ACCE is Amy Schur, who is also the organization’s executive director.
Schur was formerly the lead organizer for ACORN CA and was a member of ACORN’s management council. She reportedly knew of the embezzlement of ACORN funds by Dan Rathke, but chose to inform neither the ACORN board of directors nor law enforcement about the crime.
Lead organizer in the San Diego office is David Lagstein, former lead organizer for ACORN in Michigan. ACCE board member Edgar Hilbert was also formerly with ACORN CA member. ACCE took over the office space previously occupied by ACORN CA at 3655 So. Grand Avenue, Suite 250, Los Angeles, CA 90007.
Interestingly, in January 2011, Schur put out a press release highlighting ACCE's creation, defending ACORN and announcing that the new-found group would continue the important work of organizing in California. The release reads:
It has been a difficult and emotional time. We, the California leadership, staff and members who have been working with ACORN, believe that ACORN, both locally and nationally, has been a tremendous force advancing the interests of low-income and working families in this country. At the same time, very real internal mistakes have been made and vicious politically motivated attacks have led to right-wing activists digging through our trash and editing undercover videos to tell a lie so malicious that, if it were true, would upset any citizen. [...]
Nevertheless, those of us who have been working with ACORN in California believe that we can't wait any longer to be in full control over our destiny. The leadership and staff that were working with ACORN in California made the decision to break off from ACORN and launch a new organization here in California called Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE).
Needless to say, it's clear that the organization has deep ties to ACORN. And when it comes to ReFund, while the coalition looks like a separate entity, it's contact information goes back to ACCE (clearly, ReFund is a project of the ACCE -- or, at the least, a project the ACCE has a major stake in).
Now, this brings us back to last week's Bank of America incident. Writer and filmmaker Lee Stranahan was at the event, where he captured some very interesting footage. Throughout the clip he posted on YouTube, individuals wearing what appear to be yellow ACCE shirts look like they're leading and guiding the protesters inside of the bank branch.
In the beginning of the video, a woman in a yellow shirt appears to be leading the group. Around the 1:00 mark, you'll notice a man in a yellow shirt waving protesters inside the Bank of America branch. Just seconds later, the man in the yellow shirt also slips inside of the bank. The crowd, of course, is chanting, "We are the 99 percent!"
Watch the video, below:
Around 3:15, the woman was purportedly leading the group in the beginning of the clip can also be seen inside of the bank. At 4:28, you'll notice a man wearing what is very clearly an ACCE shirt, with the shirt's design appearing in clear view. Here's a screen shot:
Considering the ACCE's "make banks pay" mentality, it makes sense that the group would be behind these actions. But considering that someone from the protest allegedly urinated inside the bank and with the knowledge that private property was so vehemently violated, one wonders how a legitimate organization could condone such actions.
At the least, the public deserves to know that there may have been nothing "organic" about this protest. Additionally, considering the allegations that were previously waged against ACORN, any and all of its offshoot groups -- including ACCE -- deserve elevated scrutiny.
This report follows two additional pieces the Blaze has written about ACORN's reformation (one about an Orlando group and another about a New York City-based organization). All three reports show that the ACORN affiliates are heavily supportive of the Occupy movement.