Financial District Host Bank Meeting, Big Protest - NBC Bay Area

Financial District Host Bank Meeting, Big Protest



    Financial District Host Bank Meeting, Big Protest
    Cheryl Hurd

     A diverse coalition will protest outside a Wells Fargo  shareholders meeting in San Francisco today as part of a national week of action by groups who say big banks are blocking financial reform.

          Organizers say more than 1,000 people from faith, labor and  community organizations will march through the Financial District before  sending shareholder proxies into the meeting to ask Wells Fargo executives to  change their corporate practices.
    They accuse Wells Fargo of blocking reform and using racially  discriminatory lending practices, and are asking, among other things, that  the bank hold off on foreclosing owner-occupied homes.
    "Wall Street tanked America's economy, killed jobs, took $700  billion in taxpayer bailouts - then went right back to business as usual, choking off credit, handing out $145 billion in 2009 executive pay and  bonuses and fighting meaningful financial reform," AFL-CIO officials said in  a statement. "We're 11 million jobs in the hole, and it's time for the  financial industry to pay up to create them."
    Protest organizers say Wells Fargo has permanently modified only  7.9 percent of more than 378,000 loans that qualify for federal refinancing  programs. They are therefore asking the bank to stop evicting residents until at least 50 percent of its eligible loans have been modified.
    The group also wants the bank to invest $50 million in communities that have been devastated by the foreclosure crisis and pay a speculation tax  to create millions of jobs.
    Wells Fargo spokesman Chris Hammond said this morning the bank is "absolutely committed" to keeping customers in their homes and is finding many instances of customers who are not eligible for the national Home  Affordable Modification Program.
    "Wells Fargo is augmenting (HAMP) with our own modification  programs," Hammond said. "We're focused on doing the right thing for our customers."
    Protesters plan to meet at Justin Herman Plaza at noon then march to the shareholders meeting on California Street.
    Tram Nguyen, a spokeswoman for the California Reinvestment  Coalition in San Francisco, said a number of other protests will take place  throughout the country in the near future.
    "We can't get the attention of these huge institutions without  banding together and really trying to escalate our tactics," Nguyen said.
    Protesters will converge on Wall Street on Thursday, and a  national event in Washington, D.C., is scheduled for May, Nguyen said.

    Organizers of today's protest include the AFL-CIO, Alliance of  Californians for Community Empowerment, the California Reinvestment Coalition, and the Contra Costa County Interfaith Supporting Community Organization. Americans for Financial Reform is a national partner.