In a mock celebration of financial giant 's 160th birthday, protestors stormed the West Roxbury branch throwing confetti, blowing noisemakers and offering cake during lunchtime on Monday.
In a very odd scene, MassUniting members paraded into the branch at the intersection of Corey and Centre streets, leading some Wells Fargo employees to think protestors were seriously celebrating. Their smiles quickly turned to frowns and then hid out at their desks, trying to avoid protestors, some wearing fake Wells Fargo executive nametags.
Around 20 MassUniting members gathered for a "let them eat cake" party to mark "sixteen decades of exploiting Massachusetts customers and taxpayers for profit..."
West Roxbury resident Safanya Searcy explained why she was protesting, "I'm here today to shine some light on the adverse practices of Wells Fargo against everyday people."
Searcy said her home mortgage is not with Wells Fargo, and agreed that loan recipients need to accept their role in the home foreclosure crisis. "There absolutely is self-responsibility. But there is also the circumstances of life that take place when people are on a fixed income and are struggling to earn ends meet, or unexpectedly get laid off."
Searcy, like other protestors, said Wells Fargo practices predatory lending while foreclosing on American families. She said Wells Fargo is often unwilling to renegotiate the terms of mortgage contracts, which forces many people to be foreclosed upon.
MassUniting members distributed flyers and information citing a 2011 report by the non-partisan Institute on Taxation & Economic Policy that said Wells Fargo took in $49.3 billion in profits on top of $43 billion in taxpayer bailouts during the last three years.
The bank also received nearly $18 billion in additional tax breaks in the last three years - more than any other corporation in America. Wells Fargo also paid no federal income taxes on their profits, instead receiving a tax refund of $681 million.
West Roxbury Wells Fargo Branch Manager Kenneth Beckles said, "No comment," when asked about the protest. He also was very calmly asking people to step outside of the office, even while confetti was being thrown on him, on the floor, in the air - as noisemakers were tooted, too.
"Wells Fargo leads the nation in tax-dodging, predatory lending and foreclosing on American families," said Jason Stephany, a West Roxbury resident and MassUniting spokesman, who attended the protest. "What better way for executives to celebrate a 160th birthday than by serving cake to the very customers and taxpayers Wells Fargo has exploited for profit?"
When asked why he felt Wells Fargo received bailouts and tax breaks, Stephany said, "I think that's a good question for Wells Fargo and the politicians (who support Wells Fargo)."
Nearby West Roxbury resident and non-protestor Mike Vellotti ate some of the free cake. "I need milk. The cake is good. But you need something to wash it down with... Everyone has their own opinion. Everyone wants a good (mortgage) rate."
When told about the bailouts and tax breaks that Wells Fargo receives, Vellotti became serious and found the numbers upsetting and unfair.