Hundreds of protesters, including religious leaders, union workers, and other 99 Percent Movement activists, gathered outside Wells Fargo’s shareholder meeting in San Francisco today, protesting the bank’s fraudulent foreclosure practices. Wells Fargo, the nation’s largest mortgage servicer, has a well-documented history of using fraudulent practices like robo-signing, and even more came to light last week when an insider account detailed the bank’s foreclosure unit as operating “exactly like an assembly line.”
Ahead of the protests, a Wells Fargo spokesperson told San Francisco’s ABC news affiliate that the bank has paid taxes and is a “responsible corporate citizen” that “makes an effort to keep people in their homes“:
Wells Fargo spokesman Ruben Pulido released a statement early this morning saying the bank is a “responsible corporate citizen” and paid $6 billion in taxes for 2011.
“Wells Fargo makes efforts to keep people in their homes,” Pulido said. “Over the past year, less than 2 percent of owner-occupied loans in our servicing portfolio have resulted in foreclosures.”
Wells Fargo was among 30 corporations that paid nothing in federal income taxes from 2008-2010 — its tax rate over that time period, in fact, was -1.4 percent. Adding 2011 to that time period just barely inches the bank’s rate into the positive.
The idea that Wells Fargo makes every attempt to keep homeowners in their homes, meanwhile, is laughable. The bank has been among the worst perpetrators of practices like robo-signing and dual tracking — the process of simultaneously offering homeowners loan modifications while also pushing them toward foreclosure. It has wrongly foreclosed on homes it didn’t own, and its victims may include thousands of members of the American military.
The initial protests drew roughly 500 people, according to early reports from a local NBC affiliate. Early marches through the city shut down numerous San Francisco streets and remained peaceful, according to NBC, though there have been arrests reported on Twitter. Later, there were more than a thousand protesters, according to other estimates, and clergy members and protesters who had purchased shares in Wells Fargo attempted to enter the meeting. Here are some pictures of the protest:
This isn’t the first time religious leaders or Occupiers have targeted Wells at its San Francisco headquarters. Local churches moved $10 million from the bank in February to protest its foreclosure practices, and they held Ash Wednesday services outside Wells Fargo asking it to repent for its wrongful practices.