Hundreds of Occupy SF protesters marched through San Francisco’s Financial District on Wednesday morning for an anti-Wall Street rally outside Wells Fargo headquarters, denouncing the disparity between the rich and poor while stifling traffic and blocking grumbling bankers from going to work.
People gathered around 7 a.m. at Market and Drumm streets, where Occupy SF has been camping out for weeks. Some protesters held signs that read “Foreclose Wall Street,” “Stop the corporate greed” and “We are the 99 percent.” When the march began, some of the Occupy SF campers stayed behind. They were still asleep on the Market Street sidewalk.
But up to 200 protesters made the walk from Market and Drumm streets up Sacramento Street. They turned onto Montgomery and marched to the Wells Fargo headquarters in the 400 block of California Street. They held signs, chanted loudly and disrupted traffic along the way.
Once on California Street, police kept protesters on the sidewalk as they directed traffic back onto the street. The protesters chanted “You owe us” in front of the bank while blocking multiple entrances into the building.
During the rally 10 people were arrested on Liedesorff Street, a small block that runs behind the Wells Fargo building, according to protest organizer Pete Woiwode of the group California Partnership.
Cops at the scene said up to 15 people who blocked the front doors were arrested for trespassing.
Dozens of Wells Fargo employees waited outside the building to get to work, some impatiently.
The employees that spoke with The San Francisco Examiner, who didn't want to be named for this article, said they are far from the so-called 1 percent that many of the protesters have been decrying. One woman said she supports their right to protest, as long as it doesn't affect the lives of common people.
“I’m just trying to get work,” said one banker.
Another banker said the protesters are defeating their cause by keeping those who have jobs from going to work.
Protesters handed out fliers calling Wells Fargo "The 1-percent." The fliers called for a moratorium on foreclosures, a halt to predatory lending and also demanded that the bank "pay the fines on the blighted properties they own."
John Hroniwski, 67, of San Francisco said he is marching because he hasn’t had a job in two years.
“The corporations get away with murder,” said Hroniwski, who added that he is looking for work despite having retired from a career in customer service.
San Francisco Supervisor John Avalos, who is running for mayor, was among the protesters and addressed the crowd.
“I welcome your fight and I join you in the effort,” he said.
The march is organized by a number of groups including Causa Justa Just Cause, Unite Here Local 2850, the California Partnership, Young Workers United and the Chinese Progressive Association.
The groups stated in a press release that they want banks to pay their fair share of taxes and be held accountable for their role in causing the economic crisis.
They say they are rallying in solidarity with the “Occupy Wall Street” movement, which has sparked protests across the country.
In San Francisco’s version, “Occupy SF,” protesters have been camping out in front of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco at Market and Spear streets.
As the crowd gathered for the march this morning, dozens of “Occupy SF” protesters remained in their sleeping bags on the sidewalk, some of them still asleep.
Bay City News contributed to this report.