Arrests as Occupy slams mortgage bankers in San Francisco (PHOTOS, VIDEO)
Over five hundred protesters staged a heated demonstration outside the building where an annual meeting of Wells Fargo shareholders was underway.
The activists brought a huge inflated rat with dollar bills sticking out of a pocket, and held signs saying “99 percent take over, topple the 1 percent” and “Up with the people, down with the bankers.”
Demonstrators sought to vent rage over foreclosures and executive compensation, and called on Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf to resign. Stumpf is reported to have received $19.8 million in compensation last year, despite the fact that Wells Fargo has been the recipient of dozens of billions of dollars in taxpayer bailouts since many of its bets went south in the 2008 financial crisis.
The Occupy activists also said Wells Fargo should halt foreclosures, pending investigation and reform.
“Wells Fargo is one of the largest and most corrupt Wall Street banks and has foreclosed on hundreds of thousands of homes,” Charles Davidson, an organizer with Move On East Bay. “I think it's really important that we stand up to this, or the economic crisis will continue.”
Hundreds of demonstrators stood on the street chanting “Let us in! Let us in! Let us in!” A number of smaller Wells Fargo shareholders also joined the protest, waving their stock certificates and demanding to be let into the meeting.
“Let my hard-earned money speak for itself,” said shareholder Ralanda King, as quoted by ABC. “I expected to be let in, as my right as a shareholder. I came over 2,000 miles to come to this meeting only to be held back.”
Earlier, a protest group called 99 Per Cent Power had launched a campaign to stage demonstrations at 36 shareholder meetings, beginning with Wells Fargo.
Wells Fargo is the largest US mortgage originator and servicer. It managed to emerge from the financial crisis and even expanded across the United States, buying the North Carolina-based Wachovia Corporation in 2008.
Demonstrators march up California Street during a protest outside of the Wells Fargo shareholders meeting in the Financial District in San Francisco, California April 24, 2012 (Reuters / Robert Galbraith)
(Reuters / Beck Diefenbach)
A still frame of the video uploaded by user Stephanie Lee shows the Occupy Wells Fargo protest in San Francisco on April 24, 2012. Image from Youtube.com