Occupy assails Wells Fargo

15 protesters are arrested after storming the bank's shareholders meeting

Topics: Occupy Wall Street, Occupy SF, Foreclosure, Occupy,

Occupy assails Wells FargoDemonstrators block a side entrance at the Wells Fargo shareholders meeting in San Francisco on Tuesday. (Credit: AP/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Intervening in and disrupting business-as-usual has characterized Occupy tactics since the movement’s earliest days. From encampments in prominent plazas to mass marches to impede the flows of traffic and capital in major cities, the aim has been to visibly and physically unsettle a system symbolized by glistening financial districts and their suited denizens. As such, the new plan to disrupt shareholder meetings of major corporations seems an obvious one for Occupy and its allies — both as a means to garner attention and take the action directly to the corporate leviathans so central to Occupy grievances.

On Tuesday, in one of what organizers across the country hope to be a string of shareholder meeting disruptions, Occupy participants, union members, housing justice advocates and individuals hurt by foreclosures descended on the Wells Fargo annual summit in San Francisco. According to reports, 15 people were arrested inside the meeting of 300 shareholders (where standing room only meant that many individuals with a stake in the banking giant or their proxies could not enter the venue). The disrupters had bought stock in Wells Fargo in order to gain access; they shouted out that the bank should pay its fair share of corporate taxes and vociferously decried investments in private prisons, according to reports. Over the course of the day there were 24 arrests, as police in riot gear flanked the Merchants Exchange Building, which was surrounded by nearly 2,000 demonstrators and one giant inflatable rat.

Participants in the action were keen to spread images via social media of the heavy police presence around the summit. Live stream videographer Justin Beck interviewed a young man who, having been turned away from the shareholders meeting, noted the wall of police and remarked, “It’s pretty clear who they protect, who they serve.” Indeed, Salon’s editor at large, Joan Walsh, wrote on Wednesday about her experience reporting on the ground during “an ugly scuffle that raised questions about police procedure during the protest.”



Many demonstrators described the day as a success, but so too did Wells Fargo, who announced record profits. CEO John Stumpf may have had his speech interrupted, but he was also awarded a pay package of $19.8 million. Clearly, the metrics of success when it comes to protest actions like this remain imprecise.

However, the demonstration was successful in galvanizing a diverse support base. The disruption inside and mobilizations outside the building were planned by a broad coalition from Occupy San Francisco, labor unions and dozens of community groups operating under the banner of “99% Power.” It would be too simple to call this Occupy 2.0 or “the next phase for Occupy”; since last fall Occupy has always been an amorphous and changing assemblage — what we are seeing in the groups coming together as “99% Power” is yet another iteration of people seeking direct action and more radical tactics to challenge corporate hegemony.

Further shareholder summit disruptions are on the calendar for Occupy, labor groups and for MoveOn’s 99% Spring coalition (and indeed the intersections of the above) — whether, as some fear, the 99% Spring actions will attempt to neutralize the more radical tactics preferred by some Occupy participants is yet to be seen. Right now all eyes seem to be on the next target — the G.E. shareholder meeting in Detroit on Wednesday, where riot cops are already lining the street.

Natasha Lennard

Natasha Lennard is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing. Follow her on Twitter @natashalennard, email nlennard@salon.com.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 17
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    John Stanmeyer

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Container City: Shipping containers, indispensable tool of the globalized consumer economy, reflect the skyline in Singapore, one of the world’s busiest ports.

    Lu Guang

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Man Covering His Mouth: A shepherd by the Yellow River cannot stand the smell, Inner Mongolia, China

    Carolyn Cole/LATimes

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Angry Crowd: People jostle for food relief distribution following the 2010 earthquake in Haiti

    Darin Oswald/Idaho Statesman

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    “Black Friday” Shoppers: Aggressive bargain hunters push through the front doors of the Boise Towne Square mall as they are opened at 1 a.m. Friday, Nov. 24, 2007, Boise, Idaho, USA

    Google Earth/NOAA, U.S. Navy, NGA, GEBCO

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Suburban Sprawl: aerial view of landscape outside Miami, Florida, shows 13 golf courses amongst track homes on the edge of the Everglades.

    Garth Lentz

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Toxic Landscape: Aerial view of the tar sands region, where mining operations and tailings ponds are so vast they can be seen from outer space; Alberta, Canada

    Cotton Coulson/Keenpress

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Ice Waterfall: In both the Arctic and Antarctic regions, ice is retreating. Melting water on icecap, North East Land, Svalbard, Norway

    Yann Arthus-Bertrand

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Satellite Dishes: The rooftops of Aleppo, Syria, one of the world’s oldest cities, are covered with satellite dishes, linking residents to a globalized consumer culture.

    Stephanie Sinclair

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Child Brides: Tahani, 8, is seen with her husband Majed, 27, and her former classmate Ghada, 8, and her husband in Hajjah, Yemen, July 26, 2010.

    Mike Hedge

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Megalopolis: Shanghai, China, a sprawling megacity of 24 Million

    Google Earth/ 2014 Digital Globe

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Big Hole: The Mir Mine in Russia is the world’s largest diamond mine.

    Daniel Dancer

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Clear-cut: Industrial forestry degrading public lands, Willamette National Forest, Oregon

    Peter Essick

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Computer Dump: Massive quantities of waste from obsolete computers and other electronics are typically shipped to the developing world for sorting and/or disposal. Photo from Accra, Ghana.

    Daniel Beltra

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Oil Spill Fire: Aerial view of an oil fire following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil disaster, Gulf of Mexico

    Ian Wylie

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Slide 13

    Airplane Contrails: Globalized transportation networks, especially commercial aviation, are a major contributor of air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Photo of contrails in the west London sky over the River Thames, London, England.

    R.J. Sangosti/Denver Post

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Fire: More frequent and more intense wildfires (such as this one in Colorado, USA) are another consequence of a warming planet.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>