Thousands Demand End to Bank Evictions and Foreclosures, End to Corporate Personhood
Saturday, January 21, 2012
San Francisco – On January 20, 2012 (J20), thousands of San Francisco Bay Area residents occupied San Francisco’s Financial District as part of the Occupy Wall St West actions to demand that banks end predatory evictions and foreclosures and that corporations lose the rights of personhood. Protestors targeted banks and corporations that have damaged Bay Area communities, homes, education, environment, livelihood, and democracy.
Participants considered the Occupy Wall Street West (OWSW) J20 action a success. Thousands of people from every sector of the Bay Area braved cold and rain to stage dozens of direct actions and events in San Francisco’s Financial District, in front of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and in disrupting the City Hall auction of bank-foreclosed homes.
One group kicked off the day of action dressed as giant squids at Goldman Sachs, which Rolling Stone journalist Matt Taibbi refers to as “a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money”.
Protestors shut down Wells Fargo Corporate Headquarters on Montgomery Street by chaining themselves to the doors. Police arrested at least eleven protestors who demanded an end to predatory bank evictions and foreclosures.
Demonstrators also occupied Bank of America’s main branch at Montgomery and California streets, which the activists blockaded and shut down for nine hours. At Citicorp’s 1 Sansome office, protestors staged a mock foreclosure, piling furniture and moving boxes into the revolving door at the main entrance.
A half block away, clergy and religious leaders marched around the banks blowing the horns of Jericho. Two flash mobs performed throughout the day and a brass band a numerous poets and bans performed on a pedal powered sound system.
Iraq Veterans Against the War engaged in guerrilla theater, detaining fellow protestors on suspicion of “terrorism” in a protest against an unconstitutional provision of the National Defense Authorization Act, recently passed by the U.S. Congress and signed by President Obama, one provision of which permits the arrest and indefinite detention of US citizens anywhere in the world, including the US.
At Bechtel, 45 Beale Street, four activists, including Father Louis Vitale, read a list of numerous charges of war profiteering against the corporation in the building lobby.
Occupy Oakland’s mobile music bus led several marches through the Financial District. One BofA branch was transformed into the roving People’s Food Bank of America at 1 Market Street where a hot, nutritious, organic meal sustained freezing Occupiers. According to a mainstream press source, a presumably well-employed passerby told the mysterious amorphous black blob that oozed around the financial district to go get a job. An Occupier deftly replied, “The occupation is our job.”
Meanwhile, at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, Move To Amend activists held a teach-in featuring author Ted Nace and the local head of the National Lawyers Guild, drawing several hundred citizens who expressed their outrage at the US embrace of corporate personhood. As “Occupy the Courts” wrapped up, the group presented an oversized printed copy of the proposed 28th Amendment to Cathy Catterson, Executive of the Ninth US Circuit and Court of Appeals.
Then over at Occupy the Auction, Occupy Bernal protestors and supporters got the news that their planned protest at the weekly foreclosure auctions led Wells Fargo to postpone a foreclosure auction of the property rented by Bernal neighbors Maria and Washington Davila. Maria Davila and other foreclosure fighters thanked the crowd of about two hundred protestors for this first important step toward stopping banks from their predatory evictions and foreclosures throughout San Francisco.
Protestors stormed Fortress Investments to demand a halt to predatory equity scams where landlords and banks buy apartment buildings intending to remove rent-controlled units from the market so they can replace them with market-rate tenants. Other protestors occupied busses running on Market and Mission Streets to demand free transportation for youth.
Labor activists put foam in a fountain at the Grand Hyatt at Union Square to protest the anti-labor practices of the hotel chain, calling for a boycott in support of workers who are fighting for fair contracts at all three San Francisco Hyatts. Protestors led by the Chinese Progressive Association of San Francisco occupied the Citi Apartments office to fight for workers’ stolen wages.
A march ended at Van Ness Avenue at Geary where hundreds of protestors had a rainy standoff with the SFPD. Police pepper sprayed a dozen protestors. More than a hundred occupiers gained entrance to the Cathedral Hill Hotel at 1001 Van Ness Ave. where they held a housewarming party and occupied the hotel until the early hours of the following morning. A site of labor disputes, the hotel sits vacant while 10,000 homeless people are living on the streets of San Francisco.
Occupy Wall St West — a broad alliance of occupy and allied organizations and individuals had agreed that all actions would remain nonviolent and would not include damage to property. An incident of property damage by individuals who were not part of Occupy Wall St West occurred as an early evening march passed by on Van Ness Ave. The march immediately stopped and organizers and participants made sure no other such damage occurred.
The Occupy Wall Street West action involved dozens of affinity groups (people self-organized into groups to participate in the occupation) and over 55 labor, environmental, student, tenant, homeowner, arts, LGBT, peace, and community organizations targeting specific banks and corporations.
The January 20, 2012, Occupy Wall St West actions were the culmination of actions in which hundreds of protestors successfully shut down bank branches in the Excelsior, Mission, and Bernal neighborhoods. The Occupy Movement will continue to build a strategic mass movement asserting the power of the 99% for economic justice and a better world.
Occupy SF strives to address and confront the injustices in our society by giving voice to the 99% through direct actions. OSF is simultaneously creating a new culture based on direct democracy, diversity, sustainable communities, and respect for all peoples and the environment.
Occupy SF Housing is a coalition which includes OccupySF, SF Tenants Union, Housing Rights Committee of SF, Causa Justa: Just Cause, Eviction Defense Collaborative, ACCE, Homes Not Jails, Occupy Bernal, and other community groups and individuals. The coalition came together to stop banks from evicting tenants and homeowners through foreclosures or through their partnerships with real estate speculators.
Information on prior Occupy SF Housing actions: