George Floyd’s attorney joins Wells Fargo race discrimination lawsuit

What do you want to know

  • A recent survey found that the bank approved 47% of black applicants for mortgage refinancing compared to 72% of white applicants.

Ben Crump, the prominent attorney for the families of black victims of police brutality, including George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, has joined a lawsuit against Wells Fargo & Co. over racial disparities in its home loan practices and called on local governments and other institutions across the country to stop doing business with the bank.

In an amended lawsuit filed in federal court in San Francisco on Thursday, Crump joined an existing lawsuit filed in February by Chris Williams, a black landlord in Georgia who claims Wells Fargo sought to charge him an interest rate. higher than his credit score required when he went to refinance his home’s mortgage in 2019. Two new plaintiffs have also joined the lawsuit, for which lawyers are seeking class-action status.

Crump’s involvement in the case follows the release of a Bloomberg News survey last month that found Wells Fargo only approved 47% of black homeowners who completed mortgage refinance applications in 2020. , compared to 72% of white applicants. Its approval rating for black homeowners in the first year of a $5 trillion pandemic refinance boom has trailed other big banks and non-bank lenders.

“I believe that just as police brutality has killed black lives, discrimination in Wells Fargo has killed black opportunities,” Crump said in an interview. “They systematically kill the spirit of black homeowners every time they are denied the opportunity to achieve their American Dream.”

Crump, who in recent years has focused on police brutality cases, said he was eager to highlight the economic impact of loan discrimination and what he called “one of the problems deepest civil rights of our time”.

He said he would also campaign publicly for city governments, schools, state pension funds and other institutions to stop doing business with Wells Fargo.

“If Wells Fargo doesn’t change its ways, these discriminatory practices, then we’re going to implore people of color who sit in decision-making positions and people of good conscience and say, ‘We shouldn’t be supporting financial institutions that engage in discriminatory practices against minorities in America,” Crump said.

The company said in recent weeks that “additional, legitimate, and credit-related factors” were responsible for the differences, not the discrimination. The bank on Wednesday announced a set of efforts to expand racial equity, including a pledge to spend $150 million to lower mortgage rates and reduce refinancing costs for minority homeowners.

Other actions affecting the Bank

Since the Bloomberg story, congressional lawmakers have asked the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the US Department of Housing and Urban Development to review the bank’s lending practices.

Jon J. Epps