Hundreds of community, labor and faith leaders rallied at the Wells Fargo shareholders meeting today in San Francisco. Eight protesters were arrested. A smaller group spoke directly to Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf:
A delegation of 12 people – including homeowners facing foreclosure from ACCE (Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment), CCISCO (Contra Costa Interfaith Supporting Community Organization), SEIU and Causa Justa::Just Cause – demanded that Stumpf agree to negotiate with them on a moratorium on foreclosures and a series of other reforms that would keep families in their homes and stop the bank’s pervasive record of predatory lending [...]
At one point, Wells’ Stumpf tried to argue that the group had it wrong and that foreclosures actually helped spur job creation. He then claimed that a moratorium would not help because it “only puts off the inevitable.”
When Stumpf tried to dismiss Tanya Dennis – an ACCE leader evicted from her home by Wells Fargo despite failing to prove that they are the rightful owner of her mortgage – as an “individual concern” that was not relevant to the meeting, she quick corrected him, saying that she was there for every Wells victim being wrongfully foreclosed upon throughout the country.
The team of leaders then refused to step down from the microphone until Stumpf changed his mind and agreed to their demands on behalf of thousands of homeowners and working people. Bank representatives turned off the microphone but the group persisted. Despite being on the 15th floor of the building, the voices of hundreds of people outside chanting “You owe us” could be heard inside the meeting.
The police were eventually called in and removed the delegation.
Eight of the delegation members were arrested outside the meeting place for civil disobedience. Loving the fact that Stumpf made the “foreclosures are good” argument in public.
This is the beginning of a series of events expected to take place at bank shareholders meetings. And there are signs that accountability could be around the corner. The Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations formally referred their report on, among other things, Goldman Sachs’ mortgage bond deception, to the US Justice Department. The formal referral is seen as “much more than a symbolic gesture,” according to Robert Hillman, a UC-Davis School law professor. DoJ said they were scrutinizing the report.
Add to that yesterday’s lawsuit by DoJ against Deutsche bank for lying to the FHA to obtain mortgage insurance, and I’d say the tide on bank accountability has moved a millimeter or so.