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Activists Disrupt Wells Fargo Shareholders Meeting


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.


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. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Corrected: April 24, 2012 at 11:00 PM CDT
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.
Aarti Shahani is a correspondent for NPR. Based in Silicon Valley, she covers the biggest companies on earth. She is also an author. Her first book, Here We Are: American Dreams, American Nightmares (out Oct. 1, 2019), is about the extreme ups and downs her family encountered as immigrants in the U.S. Before journalism, Shahani was a community organizer in her native New York City, helping prisoners and families facing deportation. Even if it looks like she keeps changing careers, she's always doing the same thing: telling stories that matter.
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