About 75 people participated in a peaceful demonstration on a Washington Street sidewalk in front of the Wells Fargo Brainerd branch Saturday afternoon.
Terry Sluss, an Occupy Brainerd organizer, said the group did have two counter-protesters who sat in their vehicles and watched, but in general, the protesters received a lot of positive support by passing motorists, Sluss said.
“It went very well,” Sluss said of the 90-minute demonstration. “Everybody that was there demonstrating really felt positive support from the community as people drove by.”
The theme of the demonstration was “Make Wall Street Pay.” Sluss said the group chose Wells Fargo because after doing some research, they discovered a significant number of housing foreclosures in Brainerd were mortgages held by Wells Fargo.
“There was one by Bank of America but we don’t have a local chapter,” Sluss said of why Wells Fargo was selected. “That and we had to bail out Wells Fargo and the other major banks. Wells Fargo got $25 billion in bailout, TARP money and its CEO last year made $17.6 million in salary. The company also paid no corporate taxes the last three years.”
Sluss said the group was respectful of the Wells Fargo employees working there at the time. He said the branch apparently called Brainerd Police for employees to be escorted to their vehicles after the branch closed at 2 p.m. but there were no problems.
“We were very respectful of the employees. It was simply a statement about their corporate office,” Sluss said.
Sluss said the Occupy Brainerd group will likely host similar demonstrations in the future.
The demonstration was co-sponsored by Central Lakes Senior Caucus, Brainerd Trades and Labor, MoveOn.org and other groups and individuals.