11 protesters arrested outside Wells Fargo in SF


Hundreds of anti-Wall Street protestors shut down a Wells Fargo Bank in San Francisco's Financial District Wednesday. Police arrested 11 of the demonstrators, but they also praised the protestors for their organizational skills.

The Occupy San Francisco encampment is located in front of the Federal Reserve on Market Street. On Monday the Occupy San Francisco movement had about 50 people and now, it is about double that. On Wednesday morning a couple of hundred people marched from the Federal Reserve building to the Wells Fargo on California Street.

"If you look at the rate of foreclosures and the fact that you have banks receiving basically a $30 billion cash hand out from taxpayers. People are really upset about that," said Anisha Gupta of Cupertino.

Watching the protesters on Montgomery Street, investment advisor Paul Evans didn't get it.

"I don't know what their coherent objection is. I don't think it's very coherent. I don't know why they want to tax Wall Street," said Evans.

But the protesters who blocked the entrances to Wells Fargo both on California and Montgomery say that banks like Wells Fargo are profiting while the rest of the country struggles.

"We blockaded the entrances and then the police came and arrested us," said protester Max Bell Alper from Unite Hire Local 2850. "This is corporate greed from the top 1 percent that is hurting all of us, hurting the 99 percent."

Bell Alper was one of 11 people arrested Wednesday morning and cited for trespassing. When he was released, he came back to rejoin the protest. Some protestors went so far as to classify banks in the same category as criminals.

"If any working class person had done what the banks and Wall Street had done, they would be in jail in a hot second," said Bill Schiavo of Sonora.

Wells Fargo issued a statement saying the bank has paid the U.S. government back and given an additional $1.4 billion in dividends. One frustrated locked out Wells Fargo employee said the protestors should not be targeting banks.

"I know what their message is and it's not cooperate greed. This mess started because people bought houses they couldn't afford with money they didn't have," said a man.

Cara Cordoni and her husband say this movement is what they've been waiting for.

"There are so many splinter issues, environmental, civil rights, but they all come down to the unequal distribution of wealth and the unequal distribution of decision making," said Cordoni.

The unequal distribution of wealth is a main theme -- the 99 percent of Americans compared to the top 1 percent. As ABC News reported earlier this week, the top 1 percent on average earns $1.1 million a year. Now compare that to the bottom 90 percent -- 100 million households -- they earn an average of $31,000. And since the end of the recession, the wealthiest 1 percent saw their incomes rise .44 of a percent while everyone else's dropped by .45 of a percent.

And if you go back and look at what's happened since 1980s, the top 1 percent has seen their income go up 11 times greater than what the rest of America saw.

"People respond to this people respond to this [99 percent sign] very dramatically," said protester Daniel Blood. "People are starting to understand they're not alone, they're not defeated, they are not the only one."

After four hours, the demonstration broke up and in spite of the arrests. Police said the action was relatively well organized.

"They had an agenda to get their message out and once they got their message out, then they decided to move on their way," said San Francisco Police Lt. Troy Dangerfield.

Wells Fargo issued a statement saying all the money they received in the government bailout has been repaid with interest.

Also, there were $32 billion in bonuses that were paid back in 2009 by nine of the biggest banks that received bailout money. Well that year Wells Fargo said their five top paid executives would not receive a bonus. In fact, the company did not pay out any cash bonuses in 2009, but they did hand out $1.3 billion in stock, rather than cash.

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