15 protesters are arrested after storming the bank's shareholders meeting
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 is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing. Follow her on Twitter @natashalennard, email firstname.lastname@example.org. More Natasha Lennard.
More Related Stories
- LGBT immigrants told to wait their turn
- Los Angeles elects first Jewish mayor
- Peter King: There's "hypocrisy" over aid by Oklahoma senators
- Anthony Weiner announces run for NYC mayor
- Why Democrats abandoned LGBT immigrants
- On freedom of speech, Obama-Nixon comparisons are apt
- Senate panel approves immigration overhaul
- Slave descendants seek equal rights from Cherokee Nation
- Peace Corps to allow gay couples to volunteer together
- Is abortion about to doom Republicans again?
- Anti-voter-fraud Tea Party group sues the IRS
- The Bachmann-inspired romance novel
- Nate Silver: Why the scandals aren't hurting Obama
- How to oust Michele Bachmann from Congress
- Rand Paul: Congress should apologize to Apple, not the other way around
- Who is Toronto Mayor Rob Ford?
- Colorado judge rules Abercrombie parent company violates Disabilities Act
- When America became a third-world country
- Inhofe and Coburn: Red state hypocrites
- It's Whitewater all over again
- Teen activist to meet with Abercrombie CEO
Featured Slide Shows
The week in 10 picsclose X
- 1 of 11
Lisa Montgomery embraces her nephew Thursday after a tornado tore apart her home in Cleburne, Texas. The twister killed six people and destroyed entire swaths of the North Texas town.
Credit: AP/LM Otero
Jack McMahon, the defense attorney for abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, speaks outside the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia Tuesday. His client was convicted of killing three babies in his clinic, and will serve multiple life sentences.
Credit: AP/Matt Rourke
A photo taken Monday captures Vice President Joe Biden's response to a Milwaukee second-grader's innovative proposal to end America's epidemic of gun violence. This guy!
Credit: AP/Jenny Aicher
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., flanked by a grouper-eyed Michele Bachmann, addresses the IRS' admission that it targeted Tea Party groups in advance of the 2012 election. In an op-ed for CNN Thursday, the Kentucky senator slammed the president for his faux outrage.
Credit: AP/Molly Riley
Ousted IRS chief Steven Miller is sworn in on Capitol Hill Friday. Miller testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on the extra scrutiny the agency gave conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.
Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite
Attorney General Eric Holder pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday. Holder is under fire, among other things, for the Justice Department's gathering of phone records at the Associated Press.
Credit: AP/Carolyn Kaster
O.J. Simpson sits during an evidentiary hearing at Clark County District Court in Las Vegas, Nev., Thursday. Simpson, who is currently serving a nine-to-33-year sentence in state prison for armed robbery and kidnapping, is using a writ of habeas corpus to seek a new trial.
Credit: AP/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Jeff Scheid
Major Tom to ground control: On Sunday astronaut Chris Hadfield recorded the first music video from space, a cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity."
Credit: AP/NASA/Chris Hadfield
When it rains it pours. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference Thursday with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, inexplicably inspiring an #umbrellagate Twitter meme.
Credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin
A smoke plume rises high above a road block at the intersection of County A and Ross Road east of Solon Springs, Wis., Tuesday. No injuries were reported, but the the wildfire caused evacuations across northwestern Wisconsin.
Credit: AP/The Duluth News-Tribune/Clint Austin
Recent Slide Shows
- 1 of 11