Demonstration at Wells Fargo in Santa Cruz: “Drop the Charges! Bust the Banksters!”

On April 4th, a dozen people demonstrated on the sidewalk in front of the Wells Fargo Bank located at 74 River St. in downtown Santa Cruz, and across the street from the vacant bank building apparently controlled by Wells Fargo at 75 River St.

The event was held to “encourage those victimized by the bank to learn they have allies”, according to an announcement published on Santa Cruz Indymedia that morning.

The demonstration was also called to “support the hundreds of people who visited or protested the vacant building at 75 River St. in late November and early December last year.” The announcement asserts that Santa Cruz County District Attorney Bob Lee “has selectively chosen 11 people” for prosecution, including journalists and activists, “in a case of political targeting previously unknown in Santa Cruz.”

Demonstrators cited many grievances with Wells Fargo Bank, including the bank’s responsibility for global inequity, home foreclosures, investments in private prisons, and the eviction of people trying to create a community center at 75 River St.

Tom O’Leary held a sign proclaiming “Banks Steal”. He was protesting because, “Wells Fargo signed off orders to evict people from the community center at 75 River St. in early December. Wells Fargo handles drug money while the United States government is supposedly fighting a War on Drugs, yet they bail out banks that handle most of the money, including Wells Fargo. Wells Fargo finances Guantanamo Bay, so that makes them complicit in a fascist institution.”

Tom continued, “They’ve been behind so many foreclosures, and it’s useful to speak out not just as an abstract issue, but to go after the local culprits in foreclosure so there’s a concrete institution people can identify, so they can pin it down and make it more accountable, before ultimately kicking it out of the community.”

Justin, who worked in construction before being laid off, held a sign inviting people to “Join the Conspiracy to Restore Justice”. When asked what brought him out to protest, Justin replied, “Wells Fargo, Bank of America, it’s all the same. I lost my job in construction. My boss couldn’t afford to pay us. The guy who’s house was being repaired couldn’t afford to pay anymore. So it’s a domino effect, on a mass scale, of unemployment.”

At least one person travelled several hours to attend the demonstration. Denica De Foy explained, “I came up from Prunedale, got a ride, then walked 3.5 miles from Capitola to Santa Cruz. I wanted to show support for all comrades who have been erroneously charged for their alleged participation in reclaiming a community space that lay fallow.”

Denica’s sign, rebuking the stance of the Santa Cruz County District Attorney, neatly stated in cursive letters that, “Journalism is not A Crime”.

After seeing the list of people being charged, Denica said it was clear to her that the Santa Cruz Police Department and District Attorney are targeting independent media.

Throughout the demonstration, numerous people showed their support by honking and giving a thumbs-up from their cars.

Representatives of Wells Fargo Bank could not be reached for comment.

For more information, please see:

Indybay Journalists Charged with Felony: Conspiracy to Make Media
Viewpoint Discrimination, Selective Prosecution in Charges Against Independent Journalists