Wells Fargo, Terrified to Face Victims of Its Foreclosure Fraud and Predatory Lending, Locks Shareholders Out of Annual Meeting
On April 24, Wells Fargo, assisted by dozens of Bay Area police, took the unprecedented step of locking more than 100 of its shareholders out of its annual meeting – a meeting they had every legal right to attend.
These shareholders had a story to tell, and Wells’ Chairman and CEO John Stumpf was not in a listening mood. They’d purchased stock in the bailed-out Wall Street giant, and then travelled from around the country to tell the board how its corporate citizenship gad ruined lives and wrought profound economic pain on entire communities.
The previous day, about 150 people had gathered in a church to strategize the day’s activities. When Wells foreclosure victims were asked to stand, about 50 people stood up. When victims of predatory lending were asked to stand, another 30 rose to their feet. One woman explained how, after losing her job, she’d fallen behind on her payments. She said Wells Fargo had offered her an agreement that would allow her to keep her home, but had then thrown her out anyway.
The day of activism was organized by a broad coalition of groups working under the banner of the “99% Power Movement,” including the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE), SEIU, Causa Justa, Jobs with Justice and Moveon.org. They were later joined by a rowdy crowd from Occupy San Francisco who filled the streets surrounding the Merchant Exchange Building, where the meeting took place, for several hours as the bankers hunkered down inside.
Around 2,000 occupiers arrived from multiple directions.
Last year, about eight activists had attended the annual meeting. This year, more than 150, with shares in hand, descended on the bank’s global headquarters in downtown San Francisco, only to be greeted by throngs of police manning barricades around the building’s entrances.
Police man barricades at the building’s entrances.
The Merchant Exchange Building was shut down by management in advance of the meeting.
Police officials said 14 people were arrested during the day of action.
Interfaith leaders blocked an entrance to the building and were the first to be arrested.
How effective these actions will be remains to be seen. But it’s clear that the days of large corporations operating in a space removed from the communities they impact are over. Corporate boards should resign themselves to the fact that the 99 percent are complacent no more.
Occupiers formed a human barricade at an entrance to the Merchants Exchange Building.