San Francisco's Wells-Fargo Target of Wall Street Protest
SAN FRANCISCO -- Nearly 200 activists gathered in front of Wells Fargo Bank's corporate headquarters in San Francisco on Wednesday, with some blocking the front door in a protest that slowed downtown traffic and forced workers to use a side entrance.
Pledging to "foreclose the banks," demonstrators marched from the Occupy SF protest site near the Federal Reserve Bank at 101 Market St. to Wells Fargo's headquarters at Montgomery and California streets shortly after 7:30 a.m.
Protesters posted blown-up foreclosure notices on the doors, held up by stickers reading, "We are the 99 percent." A dozen protesters sat down in front of Wells Fargo's side entrance on Leidesdorff Street, while others gathered on Montgomery.
Shortly after 8 a.m., police led away 11 protesters in handcuffs and gave them citations. Many were released and rejoined the demonstration before protesters dispersed around noon.
Max Bell Alper, an organizer with Unite Here Local 2850, was one of those cited. "My parents owned their home for 25 years, and they lost it," he said. "They moved in with my uncle, and his home was foreclosed on as well. Right now, my grandma's home is facing foreclosure.
"It really hurts," he said. "These banks got bailed out and my family, and countless other families, got kicked out."
The federal government bailed out the nation's nine largest banks, including Wells Fargo, under the Troubled Asset Relief Program at the height of the financial meltdown in fall 2008. Wells Fargo, which protested that it didn't need the help, repaid its $25 billion in December 2009.
Other protesters accused Wells Fargo of taking advantage of people in tough times.
"We hope to send a strong message to Wells Fargo that we are demanding that they stop predatory lending, that they modify loans so that they're affordable, and respect our basic human right to housing," said Nell Myhand, 55, of Oakland. She said another bank is threatening to foreclose on her home.
Wells Fargo said it was not guilty of predatory lending.
"Since 2009, we have conducted more than 716,000 active trial or completed mortgage modifications," spokesman Ruben Pulido said in a statement. "In the past year, less than 1.5 percent of homeowner-occupied loans in our servicing portfolio have proceeded to foreclosure sale."