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Protesting Homeowners Get Into Bear Stearns Lobby

About 60 protesters opposed to the Federal Reserve's help in bailing out Bear Stearns entered the lobby of the investment bank's Manhattan headquarters Wednesday, demanding assistance for struggling homeowners.

Demonstrators organized by the Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America chanted "Help Main Street, not Wall Street" and entered the lobby without an invitation for about half an hour before being escorted out by police.

"There are no provisions for homeowners in this deal. There are people out there struggling who need help," said Detria Austin, an organizer at NACA, an advocacy group for home ownership.

Bear Stearns employees were alternatively amused and perplexed, taking pictures on their cell phones.

"Homeowners, that's more than $1 trillion (in mortgage debt), you're crazy," one man in a suit screamed at a protester on the street.

On March 16, JPMorgan Chase said it would acquire its rival the Bear Stearns for $2 per share, in a deal brokered by the Federal Reserve aimed at heading off a bankruptcy and a spreading crisis of confidence in the global financial system.

On Monday, JPMorgan raised its offer to about $10 a share to appease angry stockholders who vowed to fight the original deal.

As part of the deal, the Fed agreed to guarantee up to $29 billion of Bear Stearns assets.

The agreement has raised concerns that the US government is prepared to help rescue a failing Wall Street bank while declining to bail out millions of home owners facing the possibility of foreclosure.