Protesters climb on Wells Fargo roof to protest evictions

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Activists held a massive banner and pitched a tent on the roof of the Wells Fargo branch at 16th and Mission Jan 14, while 150 supporters watched from the parking lot. Seven were arrested.

Organizers say the demonstration was meant to draw attention to the bank’s complicity in unfair foreclosures and evictions.

The protest was planned by a coalition of Bay Area housing rights and homelessness advocacy groups, along with organizers from Occupy San Francisco.

Sarah Shortt, Executive Director of the San Francisco Housing Rights Committee, says that abuses by corporate banks are inextricably linked to issues that her group has been working on for years; “evictions, displacement, affordable housing, and tenants rights.”

After rallying at 16th and Mission, protesters looked up to see that six had climbed to the roof. They unfurled a banner reading “Banks: No Foreclosures/Evictions for Profit!”

A fire truck arrived ten minutes later, and put up a ladder to give the police and firefighters access to the roof.

The Police Department cooperated with protesters, assisting a negotiation with the bank branch’s manager. A letter detailing their demands, including a moratorium on foreclosures and an end to predatory and speculative loans, was apparently faxed to Wells Fargo spokeswoman Holly Rockwood.

Protesters said that they would not leave the roof until they had a meeting scheduled with Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf. Six were arrested.
According to an SFPD statement, “A bank employee signed a private person's arrest (citizens arrest) for trespassing.”

After those arrested were painstakingly shuttled down the ladder and into a police van, protesters blocked the van from leaving Hoff street between 16th and 17th for about ten minutes until it sped out through the parking lot. Protesters then marched to the nearby Mission Police Station, where a drummer from the Brass Liberation Orchestra, which often accompanies protest events in the city, was arrested for allegedly assaulting a police officer with her drum.

Those arrested on the roof were cited for trespassing and released within hours. Supporters have put up money to release the drummer, known as Montana; bail was set at $8,100.

While the drama on the roof unfolded, Shortt, along with organizers from Causa Justa: Just Cause and the San Francisco Tenants Union, spoke about abuses committed against tenants and homeowners. They also spoke about Wells Fargo’s investment in private prisons. 

In a press release, organizers said that the protest was meant to call attention to “predatory equity scams, Ellis Act evictions, and immoral home loans.”

The Ellis Act allows landlords to evict tenants for any reason, if they don't re-rent the units at a higher price in the next five years. The act hasno restrictions on selling the units as tenancies in common -- a backdoor way to create condos -- and that's a lucrative and common practice in the Mission.

Ellis Act evictions increased by 8% in 2011, According to the San Francisco Rent Board Annual Report.

Jose Morales, a tenant who was evicted based on the Ellis Act and activist with the San Francisco Tenants Union, spoke to the crowd Saturday. Said Morales, “I have osteoporosis, I’m 82 and a half years old, but you still see me walking around with my sign.”

He displayed protest signs declaring that housing is a human right and urging single-payer health care.

Mesha Irizarry also told her story to the protesters. Her Bayview home was sold to Bank of New York, then transferred to Bank of America on September 1, but says that she refuses to leave and is fighting the foreclosure.

“We do not play the blame-the-victim game. We are not alone. We are not ashamed to sat ay what has happened to us. We are fighting back, and we are going to win” said Irizarry, who named several other women who are resisting foreclosures in Bayview. 

Irizarry began a San Francisco chapter of Occupy the Hood, a group dedicated to confronting problems that disproportionately affect the poor and people of color within the Occupy Movement. In San Francisco, the branch has focused mainly on defending homes from foreclosure and eviction. Saturday’s protest was part of that effort.

This demonstration was also a part of a series targeting banks, that protesters plan to top off with a day-long “occupation of the financial district” January 20th.

Said Occupy SF Housing Coalition media spokesman Gene Doherty, “The banks and the development companies that have gotten us all into (the foreclosure crisis) are a major part of the problem…it is their ethical duty, moral duty right now to be fixing this. And if that means it’s going to eat into their profit, that means it eats into their profit.”

 

Comments

That will certainly deter foreclosures. Not.

Imagine the WFC CEO in a crisis meeting with his board: "OMG, whatever will we do if some proestors unfurl a banner? We'll be ruined!"

Posted by Guest on Jan. 17, 2012 @ 12:29 pm

Yes, those protestors were a nasty lot standing around yelling in the street about predatory bank foreclosures and standing around quietly on the Wells Fargo roof until a meeting with the Superrich CEO, John Stumpf, about Wells Fargo Bank thefts and corruption was broached with Holly Rockwood. The really dumb part is visualizing Montana, a complete pacifist, attacking someone with her drum. I'm going to have to be extra careful when I stand next to her video-ing the great Brass Liberation Orchestra music. If I get too close to those sticks, she might make me wear her drum as a hat.

Posted by Guest carol harvey on Jan. 17, 2012 @ 4:35 pm

Yes, those protestors were a nasty lot standing around yelling in the street about predatory bank foreclosures and standing around quietly on the Wells Fargo roof until a meeting with the Superrich CEO, John Stumpf, about Wells Fargo Bank thefts and corruption was broached with Holly Rockwood. The really dumb part is visualizing Montana, a complete pacifist, attacking someone with her drum. I'm going to have to be extra careful when I stand next to her video-ing the great Brass Liberation Orchestra music. If I get too close to those sticks, she might make me wear her drum as a hat.

Posted by Guest carol harvey on Jan. 17, 2012 @ 4:37 pm

That made me laugh, thank you. The last thing you want is your home loan trying to seduce your teenage daughter.

Posted by Chromefields on Jan. 18, 2012 @ 8:37 am

for every banker making an imprudent loan, there was a greedy borrower who didn't do his/her due diligence.

Bankers could not have peddled these things unless the people had been willing co-conspirators.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 18, 2012 @ 8:44 am

I tried going into Wells Fargo @ 16th/Mission saturday to close my account. Protesters standing in front of the door blocked my path. I had to ask a cop to tell them to move. I got verbally abused by the protesters. What's up with this?
Occupy got to do a better job of policing their people or else they're going to lose support.

Posted by Mission Loco 94110 on Jan. 18, 2012 @ 1:13 pm

If 150 people want to make a statement about foreclosure and malfeasance (investing into heinous accounts and projects like private prisons), getting arrested isn't helping anyone. It wastes their efforts and only bolsters the indignation the police already show, not to mention reinforcing the unilaterally held belief in continuing business as usual by all of these CEOs and their incestuous cohorts (check out ExxonMobile's board of directors if you have the time/care) with the full knowledge that nothing is going to happen to them anyway - the written law supports their position, and pacifism threatens no one, least of all those who've already well established themselves as utterly apathetic to the plight of anyone catching the brunt of their misdeeds. Being foolish certainly garners no sympathy from me.
It would have proven far more beneficial to the overall superstructure of concerning matters to reposes the physical structure currently occupied by Wells Fargo and evict all employees before deciding that the recently reacquired property was far more useful in the form of a parking lot henceforth leveling it with a rented crane & wrecking ball. They could even do so democratically, taking the vote of all those present including the evicted, thusly making their actions even more fair than those of Well Fargo. This would twofold their efforts as it would be both a symbolic action and a physical one. John Stumpf and anyone else in the ranks of WFC with the sort of clout to actually draft change in policy are never going to listen to the multiplicy of grievances/desires being shouted at them by a crowd no matter how big that crowd is, but if for every day no change is issued by them or their company a branch is demolished their attentions will be swiftly given.
Of course Wells Fargo is, in the big picture, an irrelevant nuisance in the sea of toxicity and so already a misplaced effort not worth the effort of maintaining a tactical demolition schedule with, but the point is 150 people can do a whole lot more for themselves and their supporters than wasting everyone's time and money getting arrested and never, ever getting face time with John if only they formulated better targets and tactics.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 19, 2012 @ 10:49 am

in an attempt to destroy the building?

Wow, that's genius, buddy. Except of course that branches can just re-open in other buildings. Er, oops.

And of course whoever did that would spend a few years in prison

Occupy is in a bigger mess than I thought if that's the ebst idea they have.

Oh, and BTW, Wells really didn't issue liar loans, so it's the wrong target anyway..

Posted by Guest on Jan. 19, 2012 @ 11:04 am

Did you even read the comment?
That's not what they were saying. They said getting arrested helps no one. And I think they meant it would have been more effective at raising attention from the CEO and others if they demolished the building, point being these 150 protesters are misplacing efforts and effecting little change by getting arrested. In the bottom paragraph they said Wells Fargo was a poor target anyhow. It wasn't a proposal for a specific alternative action, it was a statement eschewing the current methods and thought put into their actions.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 20, 2012 @ 9:26 am

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