Occupy LA has gone from drum circles and tent cities to meetings with high-powered bank executives.
Seven activists met with six Wells Fargo executives Monday at the Center of Non-profit Management at the California Endowment Building in downtown LA to present eight foreclosure-focused challenges to the bank.
As laid out in Occupy LA's press release, the priority requests were an extended moratorium on foreclosures, more immediate and long-term relief to borrowers, and the elimination of discriminatory lending based on age, gender and race. One of the challenges called upon Wells Fargo to approve loan modifications for twenty individuals listed by name.
Wells Fargo's pre-emptive response at the meeting? A presentation of the country's current mortgage program and of the bank's "Responsible Lending and Servicing Principles," including loss mitigation programs.
According to Occupy LA, the bank executives said they would "digest" the challenges presented and get back to the activists. Cheryl Aichele of Occupy LA commented, referring to the refreshments that Wells Fargo provided, "I guess that's what the digestive crackers were there for. It doesn't surprise me that Wells Fargo had nothing more than slides and snacks to offer us."
Aichele continued, "What I felt was missing was the very human aspect of the foreclosure crisis. To the innocent families we help, those numbers mean nothing as their family is displaced and sometimes torn apart." She continued, "Bankers seem to care about numbers. I am not in this movement for numbers; I am in it for the people who represent the 99%."
Wells Fargo's statement sent to HuffPost made no mention of Occupy LA, foreclosures or the challenges presented. In part, it states: "As we do regularly, Wells Fargo leadership meets with community leaders to listen to concerns and discuss opportunities for collaboration and partnership. The meeting yesterday afternoon is similar to the hundreds of meetings we do annually in Los Angeles with community leaders. Wells Fargo has an open dialogue with our communities and we will continue to maintain this dialogue."
Planning for the meeting began when Wells Fargo approached Pete Thottam and members of Occupy the Rose Parade the morning of the parade. Wells Fargo was the largest financial sponsor of the Tournament of Roses and had two floats in the parade.
On Monday, while more than 40 states signed onto a proposed deal with major mortgage servicers over faulty foreclosure practices, California State Attorney General Kamala Harris continued to hold out for better terms. On Friday, activists rallied outside of Wells Fargo in downtown LA to show their support for Harris and to continue to call for a moratorium on foreclosures.
Video courtesy of InsightOut News.