Wells Fargo divestment kicks off in Oakland

>> Friday, August 12, 2011

On Wednesday, August 10, Oakland clergy members held a demonstration at Oakland's Well Fargo main branch. Nearly 30 people came to "withdraw" their "trust" in the bank due to their involvement and active participation in the foreclosure crisis. (Read full story on OaklandLocal.com)

Oakland Police and Wells Fargo security guard the bank, yet seemed unconcerned with the safety of people withdrawing large sums of money.

I know that grassroots community organizations have been battling Wells Fargo on the ground for a while – organizations like ACORN (before the right-wing take down), Causa Justicia/Just Cause in Oakland, and the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, or ACCE, who all work to empower low-income, renters, and people with no income – so it was interesting to see the action begin to "trickle up."

Most of those who were closing their accounts were not people whose only home was taken due to foreclosure, but people who either had income properties, or were helping a family member or friend. Not that their beefs with Wells Fargo's (alleged) fradulent business practices are less valid, but it's interesting to see how the so-called middle class is beginning to experience that which we've been dealing with for years.

Wells Fargo security allowed those who weren't withdrawing their funds unfettered access to the bank, but "protesters" had to enter one at a time.

Interestingly enough, since it is Black August (link), there is another campaign now to get Wells Fargo to divest from private prisons. The bank has its hands/money in groups like the Corrections Corporation of America. And most of those locked up look like the guy writing these words.

For these reasons, I cringe when I see progressive organizations still banking with Wells Fargo. Or, when memorial funds are set up through the bank. Call it the contradictions of capitalism. At the same time, Wells Fargo does a lot of giving to community organizations, and they buy off give support to the Black Press and publications. Personally, I appreciate that they give access to archives.

Yet, Wells Fargo (allegedly) will not give access to local foreclosure data that may help people fighting blight and the foreclosure crisis.

In the end, hundreds of thousands of dollars were (apparently) withdrawn. And demonstrators said they'd be going to local credit unions. It'll be interesting to see if this catches on.



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