Occupy activists rally outside home of Wells CEO
San Fransisco Chronicle
Feb. 26, 2012
By John King
Organized theater played Russian Hill on Saturday – 1960s street theater updated with 21st century themes.
The setting was the base of the 14-story tower where one of the residents is John Stumpf, chief executive officer of Wells Fargo. The cast included people who say they are in danger of losing their homes, veteran housing activists and younger protesters loosely aligned with the almost 6-month-old Occupy movement.
Some people wore black shrouds or held cut-out figures depicting Stumpf; two carried an enormous “notice of default” aimed at Stumpf because of Wells Fargo’s alleged “record profits at the expense of low-income communities.” In an era when protests are plentiful, one organizer explained, it doesn’t hurt to shake up the repertoire every now and then.
“We’re trying to be different,” said Buck Bagot, a longtime Bernal Heights activist who has spent recent months assisting neighborhood residents whose homes have been foreclosed. “I’ve been to too many demonstrations where 30 people you know say the same thing 30 times.”
The hour-long protest at Chestnut and Larkin streets brought out more than 50 people. A few were off-message, such as the pair displaying a banner critical of PG&E’s SmartMeters. Most, though, homed in on the community turmoil caused by the loose lending policies of large banks in the years leading up to the recession’s start in 2008 and the wave of foreclosures that has followed.
This being 2012, the organizing groups included Occupy Bernal and the OccupySF Housing Council. But one of Occupy Bernal’s founders is Bagot, who has worked on housing issues dating to the 1970s; OccupySF Housing Council was represented at the rally by Ted Gullickson, a longtime leader of the San Francisco Tenants Union.
The Occupy protests that began last fall have brought fresh interest in tackling issues such as residential displacement, Bagot suggested. “It has changed the discourse in a way I haven’t seen since the peace movement,” he said.