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I was trying to come up with a snappy introduction for yesterday's action in San Francisco, but then I realized there was no way I could compete with Mother Jones' take on the day's events... so take it away MJ:

"I would not want to work for Wells Fargo," one woman on lunch break in downtown San Francisco loudly told her friend.

No kidding. At around noon today, some 2,000 activists launched a blitzkrieg against the bank's annual shareholder meeting at the Merchants Exchange Building, where they blocked entrances, inflated a two-story cigar-smoking rat in the street, and deployed hundreds of shareholder activists to pack the joint.

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Having been on the outside, I can't tell you what happened inside the shareholders' meeting. I did read that it only lasted for 45 minutes, whereas last year's took 2 1/2 hours, so that's a clue. A wonderful rec-listed diary by jpperry, Stockholder and Grandmother Betty Calls Out Wells Fargo, provides a bit of the inside story... until Betty gets escorted out for speaking her mind.

So here is how it came down from one protester's perspective "on the outside."

The march started, well, marching, from Justin Herman / Bradley Manning Plaza at the Embarcadero in San Francisco around 11:00 AM.  As the march began moving up Market Street Occupy San Francisco started... marching the other way???


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Occupy San Francisco and friends ready to march

Yup. I asked WTF we were doing, and was told that the march had been divided into three parts. Occupy San Francisco and associates were the "northern branch." We proceeded west on Clay Street and then down Montgomery to put ourselves in position to blockade the Mongomery St. entrance to the Merchants Exchange Building  -- where the meeting was to take place at 1:00 PM.  A larger contingent ended up at the California entrance between Montgomery and Leidesdorff (the latter being more of an alley than a street), blocking the main entrance.

(For a detailed map, try typing in 'Merchants Exchange Building, San Francisco' into Google and expanding the map).

There is also an entrance to the building on Leidesdorff, and blockaders whose arms were linked by piping sat across the alley at both the California and Pine St. intersections with Leidesdorff. SEIU members took up a position at the intersection of Montgomery and Pine.

And so the seige began.

Lots and lots (and lots and lots) of cops were about. Some blocked off access to Pine between Montgomery and Sansome for reasons which were never clear, some were on motorcycles, and some were just hanging out chewing the fat and enjoying the beautiful Spring day.


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The Montgomery Street entrance. A police-eye view

The main rally was on California, where speakers and singers kept the crowd here energized for hours, although there was plenty of chanting by OSF and the SEIU on Montgomery.

Only twice did I observe situations where the police could have turned the situation into a potential riot.

The OSF blockade consisted of a bunch of people sitting and standing directly in front of the doors on the outside, a bunch of people sitting in front of the doors on the inside, and a circling picket line on the sidewalk at the entrance. No one got into the building through that entrance (people were exiting without any problem).

At one point about ten police marched in and lined up along the building right next to the Pine St. entrance. But then, as mysteriously as they decided to march in, they decided to march out.


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Police line up... then they vanish

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The second incident involved the blockaders at California and Leidesdorff. One of the blockaders (the young man sitting at the far end in the picture) had wrapped his arm around one of the metal blockades the police had set up -- I guess they set them up to help us maintain the alley blockade, who knows.  For some insane reason one of the police stationed at that location decided to squeeze the guy's arm between two of the metal racks. I'm sure there have to pictures and film of this but I haven't noticed any links. As you can imagine, the crowd was turning ugly fast but then, as best I could make out, the pig (I think that is a more than justifiable term here) relented. I mean, WTF indeed?

As the stockholders meeting started, the crowd started to thin. I left a little after 1:00 PM, and I suspect the crowd dissapaited soon after, mission basically accomplished.

Everyone who was anyone in housing protests, so to speak, was there. I saw contingents from Occupy Richmond, Occupy Cal and Occupy Redwood City (not to mention Occupy Oakland and of course Occupy San Francisco). Plenty of people from ACCE and Just Cause were there, two major players in Bay Area foreclosure defense. A large SEIU contingent participated (I'm sure many of their members have been victims of banksters), and other union contigents were there as well but memory fails me. A strong Interfaith contingent made its presence known, and provided some introductory remarks before the march began.

Here are some tweets that I culled describing the day. They are in reverse chronological order -- read them from the bottom up if you wish to see how the day progressed.  Joshua Holland, whose tweets make up a good portion of the cull, is a writer who was recruited (?) to get obtain stock in Wells Fargo and attend the meeting. There were arrests, as Joshua Holland indicates, although I didn't see any -- most of them, I suspect, happened inside the building.

Joshua Holland  @JoshuaHol  
RT @tracyvs: MT @KQEDNewsLive SFPD: 14 arrests made inside @wellsfargo mtng. 6 out. Add'tl 4 arrests by SF sheriff's office. #99power

Joshua Holland @JoshuaHol  
.@revmagdalen Wells Fargo shareholders were locked out by Wells Fargo.

Jeff Pinzino @JeffPinzino  
1,000s protest Wells Fargo, police in force, shareholders being denied access, follow #99power @maddow @dylanratigan @chrislhayes

Joshua Holland  @JoshuaHol  
I must say that it was kind of surreal being at an #OWS protest in a suit and a tie.

mary mad @marymad
A gaggle of school kids walked by and started yelling OCCUPY and cheering. #osf #wf24

UNITE HERE @UNITEHEREUnion
100s of shareholders inside the meeting have taken over agenda, testifying how @WellsFargo harmed their communities #wf24 #ows #p2

KQED News Live @KQEDNewsLive  
KQED's Shahani: Protester: "Not a terrific year for all the families foreclosed on by Wells Fargo." CEO: "You're out of order ma'am."

Emily Loftis @eloft
One dude just jumped over barricade. Being arrested. #oo #osf #ows #wf24
http://twitpic.com/...

Joshua Holland @JoshuaHol
I find myself once again waiting on line for a bathroom with a bunch of cops in tactical gear. #OWS #WF24

Occupy Oregon @OccupyOregon
RT @RAN: As part of #99Spring, 1000s confront @WellsFargo at its annual shareholder mtg. Join Twitter action: http://ow.ly/...

Joshua Holland @JoshuaHol
"So, basically we picked the worst place in the city to have lunch" - 2 stuffed suits who work for Chevron #WF24

Occupy Congress @OCongress
Businessman assaulted protestor trying to get past human blockade at Wells Fargo meeting. #OSF
Retweeted by Occupy Oakland

Joshua Holland @JoshuaHol
Cop said, "you can pass but I don't know if you can get into the building bc of these idiots." #WF24

2h Joshua Holland @JoshuaHol
As a white guy in a suit I talked my way past a police line by acting really condescending & entitled. #WF24

Joshua Holland @JoshuaHol
Not accustomed to this view of skirmish lines. http://twitpic.com/...

Mollie @missmollie33  
last time they have a shareholder meeting in SF! Ha!!!

Joshua Holland @JoshuaHol
Remember, I'm a white guy in a suit and tie w a proxy. If I can't get in, I don't see how they can have the meeting. #WF24

abc7newsBayArea  @abc7newsBayArea
#BREAKING: An estimated 400 people are protesting outside a Wells Fargo shareholders meeting in San Francisco. http://yfrog.com/...

Elle of Oakland @OaklandElle
.@punkboyinsf This has to be a new, sad record. An arrest less than half an hour after a declaration of non-violence. #OSF #WF24

Mollie @missmollie33
Amen!!! Clergy leading the march in SF! http://flic.kr/... #WF24 #WellsFargo #occupySF #OWS #OSF #A24 #OO

Joshua Holland @JoshuaHol
Cop directs proxy holders around to other side of the block for entrance. Cop on other side sends us back. #TheRunaround #WF24

Joshua Holland @JoshuaHol
Maybe 5 arrests underway at Wells mtg. #WF24

Elle of Oakland @OaklandElle  
.@Yaelnc Eventually, people will figure out that protesters do not dictate an action's level of violence. Police do. #OO #OSF #BlueBloc

Joshua Holland @JoshuaHol
Interesting to see Occupiers I know who have 'cleaned up well.' #WF24

Joshua Holland @JoshuaHol  
Off to the Wells Fargo shareholders' meeting. Dug deep in the closet & unearthed a tie--might get heckled by Occupiers on my way in.

It will take a lot more than laying siege to a shareholders meeting to get Wells Fargo to cease its odious practices. It might actually take Acts of the Legislature.  But one thing is certain -- nothing will happen unless protests like these, along with foreclosure defense actions, continue to make people stand up and take notice of the crimes banks like Wells Fargo have perpetuated upon the people of the country it allegedly is part of.

-----

Photo Credits: A fellow Kossack who wishes to remain anonymous.

Originally posted to jpmassar on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 10:17 AM PDT.

Also republished by ClassWarfare Newsletter: WallStreet VS Working Class Global Occupy movement, California politics, SFKossacks, Dailykos Kossacks For Action, Progressive Hippie, and Occupy Wall Street.

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