A coalition of union workers and Occupy organizers led the march up California to the Merchant Bank building. Their stated goal was to disrupt the Wells Fargo shareholders meeting. "Let us in! Let us in! Let us in," they chanted. At the same time, share holders stood outside waving their stock certificates and demanding to be let into the meeting.
"Let my hard-earned money speak for itself," exclaimed shareholder Ralanda King who had come all the way from Philadelphia. "I expected to be let in, as my right as a shareholder. O come over 2,000 miles to come to this meeting only to be held back," she said.
Many of the shareholders outside on the sidewalk were fully supporting the protest. "And, a lot of us have come together to speak to the other shareholders and they're not letting us in," Lynette Neighardt of Oakland told ABC7.
Sarah Norr of Berkeley chained herself to other protestors blocking the Leidesdorff Ally between California and Pine. "We want students to be able to start their lives off without being saddled with debt, and we want homeowners to be able to stay in their homes and not be subject to foreclosures," she said.
Nuno Vieira lost his home in San Leandro to foreclosure and he blames Wells Fargo. "We were $243,000 underwater due to an inflated appraisal," he said. Vieira walked away after spending more than $300,000 on his down payment and mortgage.
Wells Fargo issued a statement Tuesday saying the bank makes efforts to keep people in their homes. Over the past year, Wells Fargo said less than two percent of owner-occupied loans in their servicing portfolio have resulted in foreclosure.
Police say 20 protestors were arrested, 14 of them from inside the meeting. "We think it went well. We worked with the organizers of the event and as I stated earlier, we though that they stuck to their stated objectives," Sgt. Michael Andraychack said.
Although, if the objective was to disrupt the meeting, those inside the meeting say that did not happen. They say there was a lot of noise and some arrests, but meeting went on for more than an hour and people inside say all the business that needed to be taken care of, was taken care of.
California St. was reopened around 3 p.m.