Singing, “Stop calling, stop calling, can’t afford to pay anymore,” a flash mob danced on the counters and in the lobby of the San Francisco Wells Fargo branch on Montgomery and Market on January 7th to protest Wells Fargo’s role in the economic and housing crisis. The event, organized by San Francisco Pride at Work/HAVOQ and the San Francisco Occupy movement highlighted the unfairness of the company’s profits and bailouts after it made fraudulent housing loans that triggered the 2008 economic meltdown.
Participants spoke out about how Wells Fargo profits from student loan debts, which are considered to be among the most lucrative loans banks can make. ‘”Wells Fargo makes immense profits off of student loans and pays essentially nothing in taxes,” said Ethan Knudson, a recent graduate with student loans from Wells Fargo. “All while recent grads like me are unemployed or stuck in dead-end jobs.” Wells Fargo is estimated to hold over 10 billion dollars in private student debt.
The flash mobbers were also unhappy about where Wells Fargo puts their money, as a key investor in the for-profit private prison industry which has backed political initiatives that legalize racial-profiling in states such as Arizona and Alabama. Wells Fargo controls over 4 million shares in Geo Group and 50,000 shares in CCA, and Wells Fargo and Geo Group have shared the same lobbyist in Washington, DC. “Wells Fargo and for-profit prisons rely on billions of tax dollars as their primary source of revenue and profit, so while crimes have dropped every year for the last 2 decades, Wells Fargo has a financial stake in the creation of laws that increase the detention of immigrant members of our communities – more detentions equals more profit,” said Li Morales. “This has got to stop.”
San Francisco Pride at Work/HAVOQ plans to return to Wells Fargo on January 20th as part of a city-wide day of protests at banks and other financial institutions. Occupy San Francisco and many labor and community organizations are expected to participate in the day of actions. January 20th protests will gather at Justin Herman Plaza at 6am, 12pm and 5pm.
For more information on the January 20th Occupy Wall Street West Actions: http://www.occupywallstwest.org/wordpress/