SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — At least a dozen people were arrested Friday during an anti-Wall Street protest in downtown San Francisco, mostly for blocking an entrance at a bank's corporate headquarters.
The midday arrests came as hundreds of protesters gathered in the rain attempting to disrupt business in the city's Financial District as part of daylong Occupy Wall Street-related demonstrations scheduled around the county demanding that banks end evictions and foreclosures.
Police arrested 11 people for trespassing about 9 a.m. after a group of protesters refused to move their human chain blocking an entrance to Well Fargo's headquarters, Cmdr. Richard Corriea said. Another person was arrested for apparently being in possession of a police baton after a brief clash with officers.
"It's a dynamic situation," Corriea said. "We're going to facilitate First Amendment rights, but when public safety is put at risk, for instance blocking fire exits, we're going to repeatedly ask them to move, leave or make arrests."
A spokesman for Wells Fargo said Friday that the bank is doing its part to help those facing financial hardships.
"We understand that Americans are demanding more from their financial institutions during this economic recovery," spokesman Ruben Pulido said in a written statement.
Meanwhile, as police in riot gear and private security guards tried chasing off protesters trying to occupy the banks, many spilled onto the streets, often causing traffic to be rerouted or come to a standstill. Two cable cars came to a grinding halt as protesters took over an intersection.
As officers tried to keep the streets clear as the noon hour approached, numerous protesters chanted, "You're protecting corporate greed!" and held signs that read, "The Overlords of Wall Street are the Real Vampires," and "The Ruling Elites Betrayed Our Country."
Organizers said that Friday's protest also coincided with the U.S. Supreme Court's decision two years ago to remove limits on how much money corporations could donate to political campaigns.
"Today continues to show how people in San Francisco and across the country are fed up with the actions of the 1 percent and the role of corporations in our lives," said Pete Woiwode, a protest organizer. "We're out here to demand an economy that works for everybody, not just the 1 percent."