Protesters rally against Wells Fargo

The protest group feels that the bank should adjust their policies.

Deputy Organizing & Training Director of TakeAction Minnesota Elizabeth Lienesch leads a protest outside of McNamara Alumni Center Tuesday on East Bank. The protest was meant to pressure Wells Fargo CEO Jon Stumpf into changing educational loaning policies.

Deputy Organizing & Training Director of TakeAction Minnesota Elizabeth Lienesch leads a protest outside of McNamara Alumni Center Tuesday on East Bank. The protest was meant to pressure Wells Fargo CEO Jon Stumpf into changing educational loaning policies.

Jenna Wilcox

Roughly 50 Minneapolis protesters rallied outside the University of MinnesotaâÄôs McNamara Alumni Center on Tuesday to pressure Wells Fargo CEO Jon Stumpf  as he spoke at a lunch lecture.

The group wants the bank to adopt policies in the public interest, including lowering interest rates on student loans, stopping home foreclosures and renegotiating mortgages.

âÄúWe would like to get Stumpf to meet with representatives of the community about some changes they could make in their policies and undo some the damage that theyâÄôve done to education in our economy,âÄù said Kevin Whelan, spokesman for Minnesotans for a Fair Economy.

But protesters were unable to deliver their speech to Stumpf and spent about two hours picketing outside the building.

âÄúTwo sentences were about all we were able to get out before security forced us out,âÄù said Carol Nieters, executive director of SEIU Local 284.

SEIU Local 284 âÄî a statewide association of education workers âÄî and Minnesotans for a Fair Economy organized the rally.

Participants said they had attempted to schedule a meeting with Wells Fargo executives to discuss changes in the past, but were refused.

Kira Downey, a former University of Minnesota student, told her story at the rally.

Her parents took out a loan with Wells Fargo in 1998 for a home remodel. But both parents were then laid off from their jobs and now the home is being foreclosed.

Downey said Wells Fargo notified her parents this summer that they had to pay $27,000 in interest up front after they fell behind on payments. They couldnâÄôt pay, she said.

Downey is still a minor so she was forced to drop out of school after her parentâÄôs credit score was denied.

âÄúI would have been a junior this year and graduated at [the age of] 19,âÄù Downey said. âÄúNow I have to transfer somewhere where I can get financial aid.âÄù

University graduate and friend of Downey, Anya Svanoe was one of the organizers of the protest. She said she got involved because she wanted to do what she could instead of complaining about problems.

âÄúTo have the actual decision maker, the CEO, here, we knew this was an opportunity we didnâÄôt want to miss,âÄù Svanoe said.

On Oct. 14, Svanoe also helped organize a 600-person march from Peavey Plaza in downtown Minneapolis to the Wells Fargo Center.

âÄúWe actually shut it down on Friday, on pay day,âÄù she said. âÄúWe need to bring their decisions to their front doorsteps so that they can see what the people have to deal with. ItâÄôs about building pressure on decision makers.âÄù

Whelan said protests at banks and bank branches will continue.

âÄúI think itâÄôs exciting that students are coming together with people from a variety of other parts of the community. ItâÄôs a powerful partnership that will probably continue,âÄù he said.