OAKLAND, CA – Hundreds of community members, workers, and even some shareholders, disrupted the Annual Shareholders Meeting of Wells Fargo, held in San Francisco on May 3, 2011. The protesters demanded, “an immediate foreclosure moratorium,” according to organizers.
Unlike other big banks, Wells Fargo has yet to change its foreclosure procedures, the protesters charged in a press release. More than two years into the government's Home Affordable Modification Program, Wells Fargo has agreed to modify only 22 percent (77,402 out of 350,169) of its loans which qualify for the program.
The protest began with hundreds gathering for a short rally at Justin Herman Plaza at the Embarcadero in San Francisco, at 11:30 am. Then they received marching instructions from Miss Shirley of Oakland ACCE (Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, ).
They marched from Embarcadero, up Market Street, to the Merchants Exchange Building at 465 California Street, where Wells Fargo was holding its Annual Shareholder Meeting.
There was a brief rally in front of the Merchants Exchange Building. Among the speakers was Betty Olson-Jones, President of the Oakland Education Association (OEA), who said that she, as a shareholder, was about to go inside to bring the protesters demands into the Annual Shareholders Meeting, and that there were other shareholders inside who would support her.
Subsequently, the proceedings of the Annual Shareholders Meeting were delayed and disrupted for about an hour by protesting shareholders, according to Bill Chorneau, Spokesperson for Oakland ACCE.
Meanwhile, hundreds of protesters formed a picket line outside the building and chanted loudly, urged on by a powerful sound system. The picket line extended the entire length of the 400 block of California Street.
Eight protesters were arrested for committing an act of civil disobedience – sitting down and blocking the entrance to the building – according to Chorneau.
The protest was organized by The New Bottom Line campaign, a nationwide network that includes the National Peoples' Action, PICO National Network, Alliance for a Just Society, ACCE, and Industrial Areas Foundation of the Southeast, as well as dozens of state and local organizations (. The protest was also supported by a number of unions, including SEIU and AFSCME.
“Today is a very personal day for my family. Since 2005, I have been fighting Wells for wrongful foreclosure,” said San Leandro resident Donna Vieira. “But through this process, I have learned that I am not alone. A quarter of the foreclosures in this country happened right here in California, and 700,000 families are in foreclosure right now. We need these banks to have a new bottom line that includes investing in our communities,” said Vieira.