CONTACT:  Peter Cervantes-Gautschi


(503) 705-3343


November 2, 2012 — In a press release dated October 24, 2012, we erroneously stated that Wells Fargo divested 75% of its Geo stock. We regret the error.

The latest SEC filings reveal that Wells Fargo has divested 33% of its dispositive holdings in the Geo Group, the nation’s second largest private prison company, which reduces Wells Fargo’s holdings to 4.98% of Geo Group’s common stock.

The National Private Prison Divestment Campaign noted that by reducing its holdings to less than 5% of GEO’s stock, Wells Fargo will no longer be required to disclose some financial dealings with GEO. Other SEC filings have revealed that Wells Fargo is the creditors’ Trustee for a $300 million GEO senior bond debt.

According to its current annual report, Geo Group, the nation’s second largest private prison company, depends on the incarceration of immigrants to meet its revenue goals.  The company is a major contributor to federal political campaigns and lobbying efforts impacting budgets of the Departments of Homeland Security and Justice.

Peter Cervantes-Gautschi, Executive Director of Enlace, the campaign convener, congratulated Wells Fargo on its well-advised decision to dump the private prison stock and called on the financial industry giant to rid itself of the rest of its private prison holdings and to cease financing private prison companies.

Both GEO and the nation’s largest private prison company, Corrections Corporation of America, depend heavily on Wells Fargo financing as they continue efforts to acquire government contracts build, fill and manage immigrant detention centers and other private prisons.


 For more information on Wells Fargo’s ties to immigrant detentions in private prisons go to: Jails Fargo: Banking on Immigrant Detention

National Private Prison Divestment Campaign:

National People’s Action:

Wells Fargo Courts Latinos While Investing in Private Prisons That Profit From Detaining Immigrants: Report Calls for Bank to Break Ties

Thursday, 27 September 2012 11:05 By Yana Kunichoff, Truthout | Report

Wells Fargo has marketed itself as the bank of choice for Latinos, yet a new report details the bank’s ties to the private prision industry, which lobbies for, and profits from, stepped-up enforcement and criminalization of immigration laws, like Arizona’s SB 1070.

Jesus Gerardo Noriega Esquivel and his family were long-time Wells Fargo customers until they found out about the industry’s connections to private prisons. Esquivel, an undocumented immigrant brought to the United States at the age of nine, was saving his slowly-earned money to study as an automotive engineer. His family has held Wells Fargo accounts for more than ten years. Continue reading

EXPOSED: Wells Fargo Banks on Immigrant Detention

EXPOSED: Wells Fargo Banks on Immigrant Detention

For the last year National People’s Action (NPA), as part of the National Prison Divestment Campaign has been organizing to get Wells Fargo to divest from financing private prisons. While Wells is investing in aggressive customer outreach to the Latino community, it is also providing critical financing to private prison corporations that lobby to prevent reform of a broken immigration system. They can’t have it both ways.

NPA and Public Accountability Initiative just released the first of 2 reports, Wells Fargo: Banking on Immigrant Detention, that details Wells Fargo’s direct financing of private prisons known for their inhumane conditions and for trying to block immigration reform. Key finding include:
Prison industry giants Corrections Corporation of America and GEO Group doubled annual revenue in the last 10 years to a combined $3.3 billion in 2011, in major part due to the increase in immigrant detention centers.
Wells Fargo provides critical financing to Corrections Corporation of America, including a $785 million line of credit.
Wells controls $95.5 million in GEO Group stock through its mutual funds, and serves as trustee for $300 million of the company’s corporate debt.

You can read the report here:



Please take action and sign the petition:

IRATE & First Friends Dumps Wells Fargo

We applaud and congratulate  Irate & First Friends for taking and closing their Wells Fargo account.  It is fantastic to see organizations taking the lead by dumping Wells Fargo because of their role in profiteering from immigrant detention.Below is their statement:

IRATE & First Friends Dumps Wells Fargo

Posted on June 11, 2012 by Irate

Wells FargoBecause of its significant investments in private prisons which profit from immigration detention, IRATE & First Friends board of trustees has decided that it can no longer, in good conscience, bank with Wells Fargo.  We simple cannot excuse the inherent immorality of providing financial benefit to some through the creation of suffering for so many.  We urge our associates & partner organizations to do the same.  Below is the letter that was sent to the Wells Fargo branch in Elizabeth.

For more info on Wells Fargo & private prisons go

Dear [Branch Manager]:

The purpose of this letter is to inform you that we have closed our account and removed our funds from your branch.  Our organization can no longer, in good conscience, bank with Wells Fargo.

Despite pressure from advocates for prison reform, immigrant rights and faith based groups, Wells Fargo continues to be an active participant in the for-profit prison system with significant investments in Corrections Corp of America, the company that owns and runs the Elizabeth Detention Center, and the GEO Group which owns Delaney Hall.  The recent release of public bid documents also revealed that Wells Fargo is a financial advisor to Community Education Centers (CEC), the private corrections company which profits from a contract to incarcerate ICE detainees at Delaney Hall.

The people who are held at immigration detention facilities include long-time residents of our local communities.  Many are the primary breadwinners or caregivers for their families.  Their detention splits apart families and removes laborers and consumers from the local economy.

For over a decade, IRATE & First Friends has advocated for an end to the mass detention of immigrants, the use of alternatives to detention and the improvement of conditions for those currently in immigration detention.  Since 1997, First Friends has managed a visitor’s service at the Elizabeth Detention Center and has recently begun visitor’s services for immigrant detainees at both the Hudson and Bergen County jails and Delaney Hall.

Throughout this time we have witnessed the neglect and abuse that result from the conflicting interests of caring for human beings in custody and providing returns to investors.  Conditions in these facilities are shockingly inhumane. Unsanitary and unsafe conditions including lack of access to medical treatment, substandard food, and physical and verbal abuse from staff and guards are pervasive.

We simply cannot excuse the inherent immorality of providing financial benefit to some through the creation of suffering for many.  We urge Wells Fargo to divest from private prisons and to cease providing support or advice to such an immoral enterprise.  In the interim, we will urge our associates and partner organizations to remove funds from Wells Fargo as well.

Greg Sullivan
Program Director

Disgruntled Wells Fargo shareholders rally in Portland

Portland Business Journal by Matthew Kish , Business Journal staff writer

Date: Tuesday, May 8, 2012, 10:00am PDT – Last Modified: Tuesday, May 8, 2012, 2:40pm PDT

Wells Fargo shareholders want to force the bank to hold another annual meeting.Wells Fargo shareholders want to force the bank to hold another annual meeting.
Business Journal staff writer -Portland Business Journal

This story has been updated from its original version.

A group of Wells Fargo shareholders wants the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission  to force the bank to hold another annual meeting.

The San Francisco-based bank’s annual meeting last month was disrupted by protesters who were eventually removed from the meeting. Twenty-four people were arrested, according to Bloomberg. Continue reading

Wells Fargo Turns Away Its Own Shareholders From Its Shareholder MeetingApril 24, 2012

With spring in the air, a new spate of Occupy-style corporate activism

By Josh Harkinson | Tue Apr. 24, 2012 3:28 PM PDT

Outside the Wells Fargo shareholders meeting in San Francisco: Josh Harkinson

Outside the Wells Fargo shareholders meeting in San Francisco: Josh Harkinson

Updated on Wednesday, April 25th at 11 am PST

“I would not want to work for Wells Fargo,” one woman on lunch break in downtown San Francisco loudly told her friend.

No kidding. At around noon today, some 2,000 activists launched a blitzkrieg against the bank’s annual shareholder meeting at the Merchants Exchange Building, where they blocked entrances, inflated a two-story cigar-smoking rat in the street, and deployed hundreds of shareholder activists to pack the joint.

Citing space constraints, the bank turned away many of the shareholders, a move protesters quickly decried as an illegal attempt to dodge tough questions. A press release from the activist group the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment claimed Wells Fargo packed the meeting with its own employees, and continued to let shareholders who were not part of the protest in through a side door.

A Wells Fargo spokesman did not immediately return my call.

In the building lobby, I ran into Wells Fargo shareholder Andrew Constans, who was wearing a suit and tie and holding a paper copy of his single share of stock. The 19-year-old University of Minnesota student flew halfway across the country to tell Wells Fargo that it should pay more taxes. (Between 2008 and 2010, Wells Fargo paid none, but got $681 million [1] in tax credits.) “I pay taxes, so why can’t they?” Constans asked. “I’m not a multinational corporation; I don’t have 60 tax shelters.”

The Wells Fargo protest is part of an effort on the part of 99% Power [2], a coalition of dozens of labor and community groups that plans to target some 40 corporate shareholder meetings over the next six weeks. “It’s a broader group than normally does shareholders meetings,” says Stephen Lerner, an executive board member with the Service Employees International Union. “It’s a campaign that’s saying, let’s gather all the folks who are impacted negatively by these giant corporations and lets figure out ways to illustrate that and challenge them directly at the meetings.”

That strategy was on full display today in downtown San Francisco, where demonstrators hit Wells Fargo from every possible angle. A speaker with the immigrants rights group Causa Justa pointed out that Wells Fargo is a shareholder in Corrections Corporation of America, a private prison firm that profits from detaining illegal immigrants [3]. Bob Donjacour, a freelance computer programmer and member of Occupy San Francisco, held a sign that said, “Stop Funding Dirty Power,” highlighting the bank’s investments in oil and gas. Other protesters criticized Wells Fargo’s involvement in the American Legislative Exchange Council [4], the excessive salary of CEO John Stumpf [5] ($19 million in 2010), and, of course, its foreclosure practices [6].

On the corner of Pine and Sansome Streets, I ran into artist Cheryl Meeker, a member of an Occupy-related protest group known as Don’t Just Click There. “It’s about doing things in real life, like, physically,” she explained. She was blocking the intersection with a long cloth banner with flames on it as others held up signs reading, “Hells Fargo.”

“Do you think we can get through?” asked two guys in nice suits.

Meeker declined, but did give each of them a dollar bill. It sported an image of humans pulling a stagecoach with the caption: “Debt slavery.”

According to press reports [7], 24 people were arrested at the protests, including several who disrupted the shareholder meeting from within. Meanwhile, Wells Fargo announced record profits and awarded CEO John Stumpf a $19.8 million pay package.

Link to article:

Wells Fargo Protesters Block Investors at Annual Meeting

By Dakin Campbell and Mark Chediak – Apr 25, 2012

Wells Fargo & Co. (WFC) shareholders needed police help to enter the bank’s annual meeting yesterday in San Francisco as at least 500 people gathered to protest the company’s lending and foreclosures.

Sounds from the street wafted up to the 15th floor of the Merchants Exchange Building across from Wells Fargo’s headquarters in the city’s financial district, where Chief Executive Officer John Stumpf was interrupted at least four times by shouting. About two dozen were arrested as protesters chained themselves together to block an entrance and others made it inside, chanting as police cleared paths for attendees.

Members of Occupy Wall Street are among groups seeking to revive last year’s protests against the nation’s biggest banks for their role in causing the financial crisis and gaps between the incomes of the nation’s richest and poorest citizens. Wells Fargo is the largest provider of U.S. home loans and runs the biggest servicing operation, which handles billings, collections and foreclosures for banks and investors who own mortgages.

“We are here to put stories to the numbers and faces to the bottom line,” said Sarah Lombardo, 29, of Oakland, who joined a human chain with five others to block shareholders from entering the building. Her parents’ house in Southern California was foreclosed two years ago, wrecking her family’s credit, preventing her from getting a college loan and forcing her to work two jobs to help pay tuition, she said in an interview.

Lombardo said she didn’t know the names of the four banks that held the mortgage. The lenders foreclosed after her father was disabled in an accident and her mother got cancer, making it tough for them to make payments, she said.

Stumpf Interrupted

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. Stumpf, 58, told the people they were out of order, and security personnel and San Francisco police escorted them out.

“There has to be a desire on both sides to have a true dialogue,” Oscar Suris, a Wells Fargo spokesman, said in an interview. “We respect the protesters’ right to protest, but well before their voices were heard today we already had a deep appreciation for the many challenges our customers are facing in today’s economy.”

No one queried Stumpf during a question-and-answer period, and he ended the meeting after shareholders voted to approve the management-compensation plan and the slate of directors.

Worldwide Movement

Organizers of Occupy Wall Street are planning protests in more than 115 cities on May 1. The worldwide movement was born Sept. 17 as about 1,000 people marched in New York City and eventually set up camp in Lower Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park.

Demonstrators who descended on Wells Fargo’s annual meeting yesterday set up a makeshift stage on the back of a truck, chanting “Let us in” as the start of the meeting approached. Others marching in a circle near a side entrance performed a call-and-response chant: “Banks got bailed out, we got sold out.” Some held signs reading, “Occupy Wells Fargo, stop predatory loans,” and others brought a posterized mockup of the company’s stagecoach logo festooned with protest slogans.

Dozens of people holding what appeared to be stock certificates pressed against a police barricade at the front of the building said they were being denied access to the meeting.

Maria Guillen, a protester who declined to give her age, said she wanted to attend the meeting to tell executives that the bank should pay its fair share of taxes.

‘People Are Struggling’

Wells Fargo paid almost $4 billion in federal, state and corporate income taxes last year as profit climbed 29 percent to $15.9 billion, according to the company’s 2011 annual report.

“We know our customers and with what’s going on in the economy, people are struggling,” said Suris, the Wells Fargo spokesman.

Minutes after the meeting started, protesters outside announced they had taken over the meeting, drawing cheers. Those who had chained themselves to block one entrance departed, declaring that they had accomplished their mission. The demonstrations took on a carnival atmosphere, with people dancing to a Brazilian drum circle and donning costumes, including one woman dressed as an anti-Wells Fargo cheerleader.

Sgt. Daryl Fong, a San Francisco police spokesman, said city police arrested 20 protesters and that the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department arrested four others. Of those arrested by city police, 14 were taken into custody during the meeting and six others were charged with trespassing, Fong said.

Other Occupy protesters, taking aim at what they called Wall Street West, were arrested Jan. 20 as they sought to shut the company’s headquarters. Wells Fargo was one of the few banks to acknowledge the movement in its annual report and list the protests as a risk factor that could harm the business.

To contact the reporters on this story: Dakin Campbell in San Francisco at; Mark Chediak in San Francisco

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rick Green at; David Scheer at; Susan Warren at

Wells Fargo Shareholder Action in the News

Enlace joined thousands of protesters and the 99% Power on April 24 to demand stop financing private prisons.

The 99% activists include a diverse group of shareholders, homeowners facing foreclosure, immigrant rights activists, faith organizations and labor groups from around the country.

Protesters called on Wells Fargo to end practices that profit from community losses including  financing private prisons, predatory lending, tax dodging, and foreclosures. The groups are demanding that Wells Fargo halt foreclosure pending investigation and reform, help homeowners by resetting post-bubble mortgages to their fair market values, divest from private prisons and immigrant detention centers, pays its fair share of federal taxes, and end predatory lending practices to individuals and municipalities.

In the News:

Protesters crash Wells Fargo shareholder meeting: Associated Press, April 24th

Wells Fargo annual meeting drawing protesters: Reuters, April 24, 2012

Occupy the shareholder meetings! Washington Post, April 24, 2012

Occupy movement targets Wells Fargo meeting in San Francisco, MSNBC April 24, 2012

Wells Fargo Protesters Block Investors at Annual Meeting, Bloomberg, April 24, 2012

Protesters Rally Against Wells Fargo Foreclosures, Bank Responds: We’re A ‘Responsible Corporate Citizen’, ThinkProgress

April 24, 2012

Wells Fargo Turns Away Its Own Shareholders From Its Shareholder MeetingApril 24, 2012, Mother Jones, April 24, 2012


Protesters air complaints at Wells Fargo meeting,  San Francisco Chronicle, April 24, 2012

San Francisco: Hundreds marching in anti-Wells Fargo protest,  Bay City News Service, April 24, 2012

SF Protest March Aims To Disrupt Wells Fargo Shareholder Meeting, CBS San Francisco, April 24, 2012

Occupy Protest in SF, March to Wells Fargo,  NBC Bay Area April 24, 2012

Hundreds protest Wells Fargo meeting in SF, ABC San Francisco, April 24, 2012

Wells Fargo annual meeting draws protesters, 24 arrested, Press TV, April 24, 2012

Hundreds march on Wells Fargo in Occupy protest,  KTVU April 24, 2012

Protests, Arrests at Wells Fargo, KQED April 24, 2012

Occupy SF Storms Wells Fargo Meeting, 8 Arrested,  SF Weekly April 24, 2012

Downtown One Big Traffic Jam As Occupy SF Takes Over Wells Fargo,  SFist, April 24, 2012

Protesters Rally Against Wells Fargo Foreclosures, Bank Responds: We’re A ‘Responsible Corporate Citizen

Protesters Rally Against Wells Fargo Foreclosures, Bank Responds: We’re A ‘Responsible Corporate Citizen’ | ThinkProgress 

By Travis Waldron on Apr 24, 2012 at 5:10 pm

Clergy member holds up Wells Fargo share outside the bank’s shareholder meeting (via PICO National Network)

Hundreds of protesters, including religious leaders, union workers, and other 99 Percent Movement activists, gathered outside Wells Fargo’s shareholder meeting in San Francisco today, protesting the bank’s fraudulent foreclosure practices. Wells Fargo, the nation’s largest mortgage servicer, has a well-documented history of using fraudulent practices like robo-signing, and even more came to light last week when an insider account detailed the bank’s foreclosure unit as operating “exactly like an assembly line.”

Ahead of the protests, a Wells Fargo spokesperson told San Francisco’s ABC news affiliate that the bank has paid taxes and is a “responsible corporate citizen” that “makes an effort to keep people in their homes“:

Wells Fargo spokesman Ruben Pulido released a statement early this morning saying the bank is a “responsible corporate citizen” and paid $6 billion in taxes for 2011.

“Wells Fargo makes efforts to keep people in their homes,” Pulido said. “Over the past year, less than 2 percent of owner-occupied loans in our servicing portfolio have resulted in foreclosures.”

Wells Fargo was among 30 corporations that paid nothing in federal income taxes from 2008-2010 — its tax rate over that time period, in fact, was -1.4 percent. Adding 2011 to that time period just barely inches the bank’s rate into the positive.

The idea that Wells Fargo makes every attempt to keep homeowners in their homes, meanwhile, is laughable. The bank has been among the worst perpetrators of practices like robo-signing anddual tracking — the process of simultaneously offering homeowners loan modifications while also pushing them toward foreclosure. It has wrongly foreclosed on homes it didn’t own, and its victims may include thousands of members of the American military.

The initial protests drew roughly 500 people, according to early reports from a local NBC affiliate. Early marches through the city shut down numerous San Francisco streets and remained peaceful, according to NBC, though there have been arrests reported on Twitter. Later, there were more than a thousand protesters, according to other estimates, and clergy members and protesters who had purchased shares in Wells Fargo attempted to enter the meeting. Here are some picturesof the protest:

This isn’t the first time religious leaders or Occupiers have targeted Wells at its San Francisco headquarters. Local churches moved $10 million from the bank in February to protest its foreclosure practices, and they held Ash Wednesday services outside Wells Fargo asking it to repent for its wrongful practices.

Link to article:

Occupy movement targets Wells Fargo meeting in San Francisco

Occupy movement targets Wells Fargo meeting in San Francisco
By Kari Huus,
April 24, 2012, 2:24 pm


Several hundred protesters marched to the Wells Fargo Bank headquarters Tuesday in San Francisco and about 30 managed to gain access to the company’s annual shareholder meeting and disrupt proceedings, San Francisco Gate reported. About a dozen were escorted out of the 15th floor meeting by police.

Police in riot gear arrested six people involved in the protest, which focused anger on foreclosures, high executive compensation and low corporate taxes, Reuters reported.

Demonstrators carried a huge inflated rat with dollar bills coming from side pockets, and held signs that read: “99 percent take over, topple the 1 percent” — referring to the majority of the U.S. population and the 1 percent who make up the wealthiest Americans.

The demonstration is part of an attempt to revive the Occupy movement — though most protesters are no longer focused on occupation of public sites after being evicted from many encampments in the fall and winter.

The movement has been broadly focused on economic inequity, corporate greed and money-driven politics, and it plans more protests in the coming weeks, including against other large companies and the nation’s massive student debt.

Christie Smith /

Protesters accuse Wells Fargo Bank of predatory lending and other practices that caused the financial crisis, during a protest on April 24.

“A tax dodger and predatory lender, Wells Fargo Bank has corrupted democracy by quadrupling spending on lobbying since they helped cause the financial crisis,” according to the web site for Occupy Wall Street, which advertised the event.

Police were stationed around the Merchant’s Exchange Building in the financial district in advance of the 1 p.m. meeting. Bank stockholders were asked to show certificates or other proof of ownership before being shepherded through the gates, The Associated Press reported.

Activists said that 30 shareholders who are protesters had entered the session, and intended to ask bank leaders for policy changes, including halting foreclosure proceedings against homeowners, San Francisco Gate reported.

The Occupy Wall Street web site lays out complaints against Wells Fargo, calling it “America’s biggest tax dodger” and blasting its continued foreclosures “on families in an economy it helped to ruin.”

The Occupy movement has staged numerous past protests against Wells Fargo. In February protesters delivered a mock foreclosure notice to the Russian Hill home of Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf. In Minneapolis in November, they turned up to protest Stumpf when he was scheduled for a speaking event.

Stumpf told the crowd in the Minnesota city that he “gets” the frustration of the anti-Wall Street movement, according to a report in the Minneapolis Star Tribune and called for unity of the nation’s political parties, as well as “the 1 percent and the 99 percent,” to get through economic hard times.

Wells Fargo did not immediately return calls from seeking comment.

However, the company issued a statement in reaction to the protest, NBC Bay Area reported:

“Wells Fargo has helped more than 740,000 customers with loan modifications, and has forgiven $4.1 billion in principal since 2009,” it said. “The unfortunate reality is that some customers are in homes they cannot afford, even with substantially reduced payments. … When people are 60 days or longer past due, and they decide to work with us, we are able to provide an option that prevents foreclosure for 7 out of 10. Over the past year, less than 2 percent of owner-occupied loans in our servicing portfolio have resulted in foreclosures.”

According to the bank’s web site, Wells Fargo ranked fourth-largest among U.S. banks in terms of assets— $1.3 trillion — and first in market value of its stock as of Dec. 31.

Around the country, similar protests are planned to target major banks and other companies.

A group called 99% Power, an offshoot of the Occupy movement, said it plans actions at dozens of shareholder meetings, starting with Wells Fargo, and then on Wednesday at General Electric Co.s shareholder meeting in Detroit.

On campuses, activists are launching an “Occupy Student Debt” campaign, described as “a collective strategy of non-violent direct action to take back higher education and end our complicity with a predatory and unjust system.”

Occupy groups across the country also plan events for what they call an Occupy General Strike Day on May 1 to demand economic justice, during which they advocate “no work, no school, no housework, don’t bank, don’t buy.”

Watch The Video here:

George Goehl, executive director of National People’s Action, talks with MSNBC’s Dylan Ratigan from San Francisco, where he was arrested for participating in a sit-in outside of the Wells Fargo shareholder’s meeting

Occupy the shareholder meetings!

Washington Post

By , Published: April 24

Even though their tents were cleared out of the parks this winter, the Occupy spirit has re-emerged with a vengeance this spring.

Across the country, and in some pockets overseas, there’s been growing pushback against excessive CEO pay, lending practices, and other major executive decisions at big banks’ annual shareholders meetings. Investors have spearheaded a lot of the revolt, alongside the anti-bank populists who’ve supported them.


Vikram Pandit, CEO of CitiGroup, (Mark Lennihan, AP)

Much of the major action is happening from the inside. UK fund manager Hermes–which represents a group of pensions and other investment funds–has launched a protest against Deutsche Bank’s executive compensation policies, lobbying other shareholders in the German bank to reject a resolution approving the board’s performance, the Financial Times reports.

This comes on the heels of a major shareholder revolt at Citigroup, where they voted down a $15 million pay package for CEO Vikram Pandit this month–with strong, surprising support with Citi’s employee-stockholders as well. Similar sentiments are bubbling to the surface at Wal-Mart and Verizon, where employee-shareholders also want more say on pay, as Gretchen Morgenson pointed out over the weekend.

Some of the action is also happening from the outside: Today in San Francisco, for example, a group of shareholders, together with other progressive activists, are scheduled to protest Wells Fargo’s annual shareholder meeting under the Occupy banner of “the 99 percent.” They’re uniting under a hodgepodge of demands that include everything from halting foreclosure proceedings and protesting predatory lending practices to divesting from private prisons.

Still, it may be a while yet before banks and other publicly held corporations embrace major reforms. Hermes, for instance, is lobbying to change a vote that’s non-binding. But it’s a reminder that the anti-bank populism that inspired the Occupy movement hasn’t dissipated; it was simply lying in wait for the next opportunity to surface.

© The Washington Post Company

Wells Fargo annual meeting drawing protesters

By Rick Rothacker

SAN FRANCISCO | Tue Apr 24, 2012 1:42pm EDT

(Reuters) – Activist groups say protesters plan to disrupt Wells Fargo & Co’s (WFC.N) annual shareholder meeting on Tuesday to vent their anger over foreclosures, executive compensation, corporate taxes and other issues.

Demonstrators plan to march to the site of the meeting near the bank’s headquarters in the financial district from a nearby park. Police were already a visible presence in the streets around the meeting site on Tuesday morning. The shareholders meeting is scheduled for 4 p.m. PST (20:00 GMT)

“Banks are big and greedy,” said Julia Cheng, one of the protesters. “They only care about themselves.”

Demonstrators started gathering at the park on Tuesday morning, but it was not clear whether the event would draw as many protesters as organizers have said. There were more than 200 protesters carrying placards and supplies such as food and water. The peaceful gathering included Occupy Wall Street protesters from San Francisco and Oakland.

Looking to build on the energy of the Occupy movement, activist groups are targeting corporate stock holder meetings this spring to draw attention to economic disparity in the United States and to promote an assortment of other causes.

A group called 99% Power – a reference to those not among the top 1 percent of earners – has said it plans actions at 36 shareholder meetings, starting with Wells Fargo.

Wells Fargo has emerged as one of the healthier U.S. banks from the financial crisis and expanded across the United States after buying North Carolina-based Wachovia Corp in 2008.

The bank is the largest U.S. mortgage originator and servicer, making it a target for protesters who say lenders have treated struggling borrowers poorly. Wells was one of five big lenders to agree this year to a $25 billion national mortgage settlement over foreclosure abuses.

Wells Fargo spokesman Ancel Martinez said the bank works hard to keep homeowners in their homes and that fewer than 2 percent of its owner-occupied homes have gone into foreclosure over the past year.

At the shareholder meeting, stockholders will get a chance to ratify or reject the bank’s executive compensation plan and vote on a proposal to split the chairman and CEO roles held by John Stumpf. Last week, shareholders delivered a rebuke to Citigroup Inc’s (C.N) management when they gave a surprising vote of no confidence to the bank’s executive compensation plan.

(Reporting By Rick Rothacker in San Francisco; editing by Andre Grenon)

Protesters crash Wells Fargo shareholder meeting

Protesters crash Wells Fargo shareholder meeting

By TERRY COLLINS, Associated Press – April 24

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Hundreds of Occupy Wall Street demonstrators from across the country descended on San Francisco Tuesday in an attempt to crash banking giant Wells Fargo’s annual shareholders meeting.

Several dozen people representing community groups had bought company stock and were allowed inside. Police said 24 people were arrested, including 15 for disrupting the meeting while inside the standing-room-only gathering of nearly 300 people.

Demonstrators outside the Merchant’s Exchange Building in the city’s bustling financial district waved signs and blocked the street while chanting, “We are the 99 percent! Let us in!”

Dozens of officers were stationed around the building in advance of the 1 p.m. meeting. Authorities said the demonstration saw only minor skirmishes between protesters and police.

Shareholder Erik Crew, 30, of Cincinnati, said he was arrested at the meeting shortly after one protester shouted that Wells Fargo should pay its fair share of corporate taxes. A group of women then said the bank should be ashamed of investing in private prisons and pleaded for a moratorium on home foreclosures, he said.

While the demonstration itself was a small win, Crew said, the real victory will come when the corporation actually divests from the aforementioned dealings.

“This is a public statement that raises awareness to hold Wells Fargo more accountable,” he said. “It’s going to take a lot more intervention from other entities who will threaten to pull their money out of Wells Fargo in order to claim victory.”

Shareholder William Brittendall, executive director of the Peace and Social Justice Center in Wichita, Kan., said Wells Fargo executives could not ignore them.

“The 99 percent is tired of always getting the fuzzy end of the lollipop,” Brittendall said. “They haven’t felt an impact like this before.”

Wells Fargo spokesman Ruben Pulido said the company respects the protesters’ right to gather, but it will work to keep its customers, employees and shareholders safe.

Among the two dozen demonstrators arrested, six people were taken into custody for trespassing, a misdemeanor, San Francisco police Sgt. Mike Andraychak said. Sheriff’s deputies arrested another three for resisting arrest, also a misdemeanor.

The demonstration saw some minor skirmishes, but Andraychak said organizers were cooperative.

“We believe they followed through with their stated objective, which was to have a peaceful protest,” he said.

Many stockholders arrived early and were asked to show certificates or letters of proxy before being corralled past gates erected in front of the doors.

Shareholder Mark Richmond, a member of the Portland-based group “We Are Oregon,” said he hoped he could voice his concerns specifically about predatory lending and home foreclosures.

“Oh, there’s going to be some action, all right. We’re very dissatisfied with Wells Fargo,” said Richmond, who works as a janitor at the Portland International Airport.

Angus Maguire, a spokesman for the Oregon group, said hundreds of shareholders representing groups from throughout California and as far away as New York made their presence felt whether they made it inside the meeting or not.

“The people were heard, loud and clear,” Maguire said.

During the protest, hundreds of union members, activists and clergy members chanted and blocked the street.

Ross Rhodes, 53, of San Francisco, clutched his proxy letter with the hopes he could plead with Wells Fargo to help save his family’s home of nearly 50 years from foreclosure.

The home care provider said he’s back on his feet after going through some hard times. But he said he wants to renegotiate with the banker so he can get a modified loan and a mortgage he can afford.

“I don’t want to lose my home. I need them to come back to the table and work with me so I can make good,” Rhodes said. “All I’m asking for is a fair shake. That’s all we’re asking for.”

Pulido, the Wells Fargo spokesman, defended the bank’s foreclosure policies, saying less than 2 percent of the loans Wells Fargo issued on owner-occupied properties had been foreclosed on.

“We work to keep people in their homes where there is affordability,” Pulido said. “Unfortunately some people have seen their incomes drastically reduced due to unemployment or underemployment.”