Protesters picket outside San Marino home of Wells Fargo CFO


Protesters angered over home foreclosures gathered to picket in front of the San Marino home of a Wells Fargo executive Saturday, testing a recently adopted city ordinance banning such demonstrations.
The act of civil disobedience by about 70 protesters resulted in no arrests, San Marino police Sgt. Tim Tebbetts said. The crowd promptly dispersed once police announced via loudspeaker that the gathering was declared an unlawful assembly.
The protest, organized by the activist group Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment in partnership with other nonprofit organizations, took place in front of the home of Wells Fargo Chief Financial Officer Timothy Sloan. The home has been picketed twice before, in October 2011 and in April 2012.
“Predatory lender, criminal offender,” shouted the protesters as they stood in the street holding signs and banners. “Wells Fargo, shame on you.”
The protest was held in violation of a city ordinance past late last year that prohibits picketing within 150 of a residential home, or within 75 feet of the property on which the home sits, whichever is greater.”
Wells Fargo was targeted for the protest, in part, because of accusations leveled by New York State Attorney Eric Schneiderman that the bank, along with Bank of America, was failing to live up to its responsibilities under the terms of last year’s national mortgage settlement.
Schneiderman pointed to 210 complaints related to prompt processing of refinancing requests against Wells Fargo, and 129 against Bank of America.
Columbine High School mass shooting survivor Richard Castaldo of Los Angeles, who is paralyzed below the waist due to injuries suffered in the infamous attack, said his condominium is due to be auctioned off Aug. 12.
Initially financed through Wells Fargo, Castaldo said he fell behind in his mortgage due to a skyrocketing adjustable interest rate at the time his home went underwater in the housing market crash. The loan was then transferred to a third party lender, and attempts to modify the loan have been unsuccessful.
“I just want to know why Wells Fargo is not helping disabled people, when they received generous government bailouts,” Castaldo said.
Wells Fargo spokeswoman Diane Rodriguez disputed the claims of the protesters, but said the bank recognized their right to expression.
“We respect the rights of people to be able to protest peacefully,” she said. “We appreciate the service of the San Marino Police Department for ensuring a safe event for everyone.”
“Generally speaking, we, as a company, have a very strong record of supporting homeowners who may be in some sort of distress or may be struggling to stay in their homes. We’ve invested heavily in our community to help those who need help along the way.”
The bank’s website states that Wells Fargo has provided new loans, both for purchases and refinances, to nearly 8.3 million customers since 2009, and forgiven more than $6.9 million of mortgage principal through 862,028 loan modifications.
But demonstrators such as ACE Community Organizer Peggy Means of Fontana called the Wells Fargo called Well Fargo management, “banker gangsters.”
We’re here to let the world know what Wells Fargo is doing, said Means.
“I don’t think they’re patriotic, because they’re doing everything they can to kill the American Dream,” she said.
She led a moment of silence for Ana Casas of South Gate, who died late last year during battles with cancer and cerebral palsy.
Casas was arrested in front of Sloan’s home in April 2012 when she refused police orders to leave before giving a mortgage payment to the banking official that the bank had refused to accept. Means said Casas provided a bold example to be followed.
“She fought to the very end,” Means said. “Because of Ana’s tenacity, her family is still in their home. They couldn’t break her spirit.”

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