A photo from the anti-Arpaio protest at Wells Fargo last week. See more from pics of the demo by photographer Bill Carpenter, here.
The clang and ring of the trolley in this video informs you that you're not in Sand Land any more. Indeed, the setting for this demonstration documented by videographer, photographer and activist Bill Carpenter is enlightened and tres lefty San Francisco, specifically, the steps of Wells Fargo's national headquarters in the city. On September 18, protesters rallied there in support of the effort to oust Sheriff Joe Arpaio from the Wells Fargo bank building in downtown Phoenix, where protests have been happening every weekday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. since the beginning of the month.
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Bill Carpenter's video of last week's demo at Wells Fargo HQ in San Fran.
This San Francisco demo was organized in sympathy with Arizona activist Sal Reza of PUENTE and members of the National Day Labor Organizing Network, who are carrying out the Phoenix action. It is the second protest in solidarity with PUENTE's protest. The first took place on September 10 at a Wells Fargo in Chicago.
More are coming. Last week, forty young organizers joined Reza at the Wells Fargo bank building at 100 W. Washington Street, the site of Sheriff Joe's "Pentagon," where the sheriff's office keeps two floors of executive offices at a price tag of well over $600K per annum, paid for by county taxpayers. Those 40 organizers were from 40 different cities. This week, they fan out across the country to their hometowns to organize similar actions.
The first to speak at the San Francisco demo was lawyer/organizer Renee Saucedo of La Raza Centro Legal, which provides legal and other services to over 12,000 citizens of the greater Bay Area.
"What is our demand?" asked Saucedo. "It's very simple: We want Wells Fargo to stop leasing space to this racist Sheriff Arpaio and stop benefiting and profiting from his racist law enforcement tactics."
Gerald Lenoir of the Black Alliance for Just Immigration also took to the bullhorn with some tough words for Maricopa County's corrupt top constable, whom Lenoir called "the Bull Connor of our age," referring to the infamous, racist head of the police in Birmingham, Alabama during the '60s.
"Sheriff Arpaio has the nerve to call immigrants who come here undocumented illegal," said Lenoir. "We say his tactics of racial profiling...[are] illegal. And he is the one that is breaking the law."
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As these new protests blossom in cities and towns across America, it's certain to bring more unwelcome press for Wells Fargo. Bankers don't like losing one red cent in deposits, and Sal Reza has threatened that the next step will be divestment. That is, asking people to stop banking with Wells Fargo altogether. If Reza can get this thing to go national, it raises the stakes and the pressure for the bank, which undoubtedly does not want to lose any business in these harsh economic times.
For more on the politics behind the protests, check out the item "Fortress Arpaio," from my Bird column of September 11. Additional coverage is listed below.