FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Kurt Dally (406) 548-5047
MONTANA GROUP CALLS FOR DIVESTMENT FROM WELLS FARGO
Occupy Bozeman to start campaign, picket to draw attention to harm caused by large bank
BOZEMAN, MT — Occupy Bozeman, a Montana group in solidarity with the international Occupy movement, is calling on people to take their money out of Wells Fargo and put it into credit unions or local banks. The group plans to stage a regular picket at the bank’s branch on West Main in the following weeks as part of its campaign to raise awareness of the ways in which the bank, which is the fourth largest in the United States and the country’s largest mortgage lender, has caused harm. The picket is set to begin February 29th, in coordination with a nation-wide protest against corporations that are part of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).
Occupy Bozeman says the goal of the campaign is to draw attention to the disparity between Wells Fargo’s exorbitant profits and the cost to the public. After receiving $35 billion in the 2008 taxpayer-funded bank bailout and buying out Wachovia in a deal overseen by the Federal Reserve, Wells Fargo reported a net profit of $6.2 billion in the first half of 2009, according to a report by the Service Employees International Union. In 2011, according to a Business Week profile, Wells Fargo made a net income of $15 billion. In July, Wells Fargo was convicted of predatory lending practices and levied a fine of only $85 million.
“Wells Fargo should pay,” says Ed Scheterlak, a participant in Occupy Bozeman. “It used predatory practices that played centrally in the financial collapse, then took taxpayer money as a bailout, all while making huge profits and bonuses, and with practically no consequences. Changing this starts with getting our money out.”
Occupy Bozeman also cites Wells Fargo’s poor record on the environment, large lobbying and political contributions, and charges it faces of discriminatory lending to African Americans and people with disabilities. The groups says the reason they are targeting Wells Fargo on the February 29th national protest is due to its ownership stake in private prison industry corporations such as the Corrections Corporation of America, who influence government policies through ALEC, most notably in Arizona’s infamous SB1070 anti-immigration law, in order to increase profits. The group also says there are numerous positive reasons to switch to local institutions like credit unions, including more favorable interest rates, lower fees, and benefits to the local economy.
Occupy Bozeman meets regularly in general assemblies and working groups to coordinate actions against corporate power. Anyone is free to participate in general assemblies or to independently organize actions that support the goals of the Occupy movement. For more information about Occupy Bozeman, as well as the group’s research about Wells Fargo, go to occupybozeman.org.