Hundreds marched from Justin Herman Plaza to Wells Fargo’s Annual shareholder’s meeting in downtown San Francisco earlier today to demand a voice in calling on the company to keep families in their homes and pay their fair share. When they got to the meeting, a delegation, led by Wells Fargo borrowers that included clergy and labor, went inside the meeting to talk directly to Wells CEO John Stumpf and the bank's board of directors. They stepped up to the microphone and demanded that the bank leadership meet with them to negotiate a moratorium on foreclosures and a host of reforms geared at keeping families in their homes and putting Wells on a path to be more responsible corporate partners.
Homeowners like Donna Vieira, a Wells Fargo victim organizing with the community group ACCE and the faith based organization, CCISCO, stepped up to the microphone to have their voices heard and directly confront CEO Stumpf. After homeowners passionately discussed how Wells Fargo’s policies are hurting families and whole communities and called on the Bank to embrace a moratorium, CEO Stumpf tried to argue back that we had it wrong and that foreclosures actually helped spur job creation.
The team of leaders then refused to step down from the microphone until the CEO changed his mind and agreed to our demands being laid out on behalf of thousands of homeowners and working people . At one point in the action a Wells executive attempted to quiet ACCE leader Tanya Dennis after she began to explain how the Banks refusal to “show the note” to prove they are the rightful owners of mortgages prior to foreclosure, led to her and her family being evicted from their East Bay home. Though Wells Fargo is working on Ms. Dennis’ case, only after she took action to defend her home, there is no guarantee she will see a resolution that will keep her from being yet another casualty of the home-mortgage crisis. The police were eventually called in and removed the delegation of eight from the shareholder’s meeting, which included homeowners, clergy and workers from the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE), Contra Costa Interfaith Supporting Community Organizing (CCISCO), Causa Justa::Just Cause and SEIU.
Donna Vieira, a leader who was one of those arrested, said that the police were arresting the wrong people. That instead of arresting homeowners who were trying to get the bank to do the right thing, they should be arresting the bank leadership for illegally foreclosing on so many families.
SFPD then escorted the delegation of eight downstairs into the lobby and it was then that the delegation decided to take further action. With hundreds of chanting outside, the delegation blocked each of the entrances of the Merchant’s Exchange Building and were then arrested by the SFPD. The eight were later cited and released from an SFPD substation.
Tuesday’s action is just on in a growing movement of events demonstrating the discontent with Big Banks “business as usual” agenda. In addition to rallies and protests being organized as part of the National Campaign to create a “New Bottom Line,” community and labor organizations led by New York Communities for Change in New York City plan on kicking off a week of protests to demand critical reforms from Wall St. and Big Banks.