A broad coalition of labor unions, activist organizations such as Causa Justa/ Just Cause and Move On.org, and the Occupy movement took to the streets of San Francisco at 11 a.m. today (4/24/12) to protest at the annual Wells Fargo Bank shareholders meeting. Speakers addressed a diverse and vocal crowd filling the street outside Wells Fargo headquarters for more than three hours. On the sidewalk in front of the historic Merchant’s Exchange Building a contingent of activist shareholders – many waving their stocks or proxy orders – attempting to gain entrance to the meeting to make their demands known.
An unspecified number of shareholders allied with the protest were allowed in. They reported a large presence of SFPD officers inside the meeting, and sporadic disruptions from activists voicing their concerns about Wells Fargo’s foreclosures, investment in prisons, and other issues.
According to Wall Street Journal coverage “Thousands of protesters descended upon San Francisco’s financial district to protest against Wells Fargo & Co. at the bank’s annual shareholder meeting here. Wells Fargo, the nation’s largest mortgage lender and the largest mortgage servicer, and the second-largest U.S. bank by deposits, has become the target of various protests ranging from environmental groups to homeowners facing foreclosure. Dozens of San Francisco police officers closed to vehicular traffic a part of California Street around the Merchants Exchange Building, a stone’s throw from where the bank has been headquartered for its 160-year history.”
Bloomberg Business Week reported that “Sounds from the street wafted up to the 15th-floor meeting hall, where Chief Executive Officer John Stumpf was interrupted at least four times by people shouting objections. Earlier, six protesters chained themselves together to block an entrance, and about five to 10 were inside chanting as police cleared paths for attendees at the Merchants Exchange Building in the city’s financial district, across from Wells Fargo’s headquarters. Inside the hall, Stumpf was interrupted less than a minute into his presentation by a person shouting that the bank should pay its fair share of taxes, followed by at least two more such protests and a disruption by several people at once.”
And Reuters noted that “Police in riot gear arrested two dozen people on Tuesday as protesters with a huge inflated rat sought to disrupt the annual shareholder meeting to express anger over foreclosures, executive compensation and corporate taxes. Police said there were more than 500 protesters and confirmed 24 arrests, including 14 people who were removed from the meeting.”