Occupy SF Storms Wells Fargo Meeting, 24 Arrested
As promised, protesters marched by the hundreds to the Financial District this afternoon where they planned to take over a scheduled Wells Fargo shareholders' meeting without getting arrested.
Were they successful? Well, that depends on who you ask.
Occupiers didn't technically take over the meeting (which is still in session, according to police) nor did they completely manage to dodge jail time. They did, however, manage to create just enough chaos to irk the 1 percenters -- and that counts for something.
Only a handful of occupiers actually got inside the building, located at 465 California St., where they vented a bit to Wells Fargo shareholders before being escorted out. As of 3:15 p.m., eight people had been arrested outside the building, according to Officer Albie Esparza, and "plenty" of officers were still out there surrounding the bank building.
At some point, John Stumpf, CEO of Wells Fargo, shut the doors, denying entry to hundreds of shareholders, which protesters say was a lame attempt to dodge occupiers and their questions for shareholders. However, Wells Fargo spokesman Ruben Pulido told the Chronicle that the protest had not "forced any significant changes to the session."
At about 2 p.m., activists sent out a press release, describing the scene downtown:
Wells Fargo restricted entry to the community shareholders with barricades, claiming they were filled to capacity while they continued to let in shareholders that were not part of the protest through a side door. Wells Fargo also packed the room with its own employees so as to allow no room for additional shareholders to access the meeting, making inaccurate claims about the meeting room's capacity.The protesters went down there to demand that the bank halt foreclosures, pending further investigation and more importantly, reform. They also want Wells Fargo to help homeowners by resetting post-bubble mortgages to their fair market values, divest from private prisons, pay its fair share of federal taxes, and end predatory lending practices.
Wells Fargo spokeswoman Holly Rockwell told the Chron that protesters were not acknowledging the many ways in which the bank has helped its financially strapped customers. She pointed out that Wells Fargo has helped more than 740,000 customers with loan modifications, and has forgiven $4.1 billion in principal since 2009.
"We recognize customers are demanding a lot from their financial institutions in these tough economic times," Rockwell was quoted saying. "We are committed to responsible lending and the communities in which we do business."Occupy's next stop: the Golden Gate Bridge.
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