On the cracked, asphalt parking lot of a former Albertsons grocery store in Santa Rosa, live theater and an Aztec dance performance revved up the crowd as they began their march to the city’s Old Courthouse Square.
Their target: Wells Fargo. Protesters say the financial institution invests in companies that operate for-profit immigration detention centers.
"There are some misguided people at Wells Fargo," said Jesus Guzman with the DREAM Act Alliance as he addressed the crowd of more than on hundred from a make shift stage. "They are profiting from the suffering of others and we are here to set them straight!"
Friday’s protest brought together more than 100 people from Occupy Santa Rosa and local immigrant rights activists in an alliance both sides hope will last.
"Today marks a defining point in which Occupy and the immigrant rights movement has come together and joined forces to fight a common battle," said Guzman. "And you want to know something… it's about time!"
Maureen Purtill with Graton Day Labor Center helped translate Guzman’s remarks into Spanish.
"We want to emphasize that immigrants are not to blame for the current economic situation," said Purtill before the protest. "National banks and what we're calling the one percent are really the responsible parties."
Wells Fargo denies the protestors' accusations, saying in an e-mail that "there is quite a bit of misinformation being circulated."
* Wells Fargo & Company does not own any shares of the GEO Group or CCA, nor have we invested our assets in those companies.
* Wells Fargo Advantage Funds currently holds a small position in mutual funds that we administer as Trustee on behalf of fund shareholders. Wells Fargo is not the owner. Public filings and website listings can give the incorrect impression that Wells Fargo is an owner of a company’s stock. We are not. We simply hold the funds as Trustee on behalf of the actual owners.
For Occupy Santa Rosa protester Carl Patrick, working with immigrant advocates is a logical next step for the anti-Wall Street movement. Patrick said the recent dismantling of the camp in front of Santa Rosa’s City Hall, forced the group to evolve.
“[It forced us to] evolve our messaging and evolve our strategies,” said Patrick. “And to identify the issues that are really hitting working people in our communities, and really hitting the ninety-nine percent.”
Patrick says the alliance should also quiet critics who say the movement is mostly made up of privileged white people.
Members of MECha of Santa Rosa Junior College and the Committee for Immigrant Rights of Sonoma County were among groups who participated in the march. A contingent of protesters from Occupy Petaluma also showed up in solidarity on their bicycles.