Activists Disrupt Wells Fargo Shareholders Meeting

fromKQED

Correction April 25, 2012

The audio introduction to this story incorrectly states that hundreds of protesters had purchased stock in an effort to attend the shareholders meeting. While hundreds of demonstrators sought to disrupt the meeting, only several dozen people representing community groups had bought company stock.

Some Wells Fargo shareholders were arrested Tuesday after disrupting the annual meeting in San Francisco. They had bought shares specifically so they could attend the meeting and disrupt the proceedings. Their protest is part of a new strategy by the Occupy movement and housing activists to target corporations.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And there were protests and arrests at the Wells Fargo annual shareholders meeting in San Francisco yesterday. The demonstration - led by the Occupy Movement - was over the bank's foreclosure and lending policies. Hundreds of protesters bought bank shares so they could attend the meeting and disrupt proceedings. [POST-BROADCAST CORRECTION: While hundreds sought to disrupt the meeting, several dozen people representing community groups had purchased stock.]

As Aarti Shahani, of member station KQED, reports, activists plan to target more corporate annual meetings using this tactic.

(SOUNDBITE OF PROTESTERS)

AARTI SHAHANI, BYLINE: Outside the California Merchants Exchange Building, people holding certificates of Wells Fargo stock lined up in front of police barricades.

ADAM KRUEGER: We are legal shareholders. We're not letting any other shareholders in until they let us in.

SHAHANI: Dozens of shareholders and proxies were denied entry, Adam Krueger included. An organizer with the 99 Percent Shareholder Spring, he says Wells Fargo, the country's largest mortgage servicer, isn't doing enough to solve the housing crisis.

KRUEGER: We demand: Stop the foreclosure factory, reduce principal where - to help keep families in their homes, and pay your fair share.

SHAHANI: Inside the meeting, recording wasn't allowed. CEO John Stumpf was interrupted repeatedly by protesters. Security escorted them out. The meeting ended in just 37 minutes. Not a single shareholder - protester or otherwise - raised their hand during Q&A. Stumpf joked, well, that's a first.

His spokesman, Oscar Suris, said after the meeting.

OSCAR SURIS: We're not opposed to hearing different points of view. But we think it's more productive, frankly, rather than have combat to have cooperation.

SHAHANI: Activists go next to General Electric, which they say doesn't pay enough in taxes.

For NPR News, I'm Aarti Shahani.

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