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Occupy Oakland elects to do business with Wells Fargo

DCblogger's picture

Occupy Oakland members vote to deposit $20,000 with Wells Fargo, one of the nation's biggest bank

Occupy Oakland has voted to deposit $20,000 with Wells Fargo Bank -- just days after the bank's windows were smashed by Occupy protestors during the group's attempt to stage a general strike in Oakland.

The decision was posted at Occupy Oakland's site for its general assembly. According to the link, the group made the decision to deposit the $20,000 with Wells at a meeting on Monday night.

Between this and the riot, I think we can write off Occupy Oakland.

No votes yet


ChePasa's picture
Submitted by ChePasa on

to the actual minutes of the meeting wherein the issue was discussed and approved, we might want to go to the source(s) rather than rely on the Mercury News for information.

Occupy Oakland Minutes for November 7th.

Trust fund information here.

According to the minutes, OO received a $20,000 donation from OWS specifically to pay for bail and medical care for those arrested and wounded in Oakland. They had not yet set up a credit union account for OO but were working on it. In the meantime, one of the lawyers associated with OO was prepared to hold the money in trust on behalf of OO, with the stipulation that three OO people would have access to the money for the purposes designated. The issue of establishing the trust fund and having access to the money was time sensitive, given the number of people wounded and in jail.

Ergo, as an expedient, Wells Fargo was chosen -- and approved -- to hold the trust fund account (which was to be established by the attorney) until OO could establish its own credit union account.

Yes, even radical revolutionaries may sometimes choose expedience over rigid principle.

Submitted by lambert on



1. Emergency Finance Proposal: This concerns the $20,000 OWS donation. We propose that until we finalize the OO bank account, the lawyer, Mr. Fong, will hold it in a trust fund. This would be accessible by 3 people on the finance team. This money would be allocated for bail and medical support as our capacity allows.

* Clarifying Questions and Answers
o When the money was first donated, what was it to be used for? – OWS specified that it be used for legal and medical aid.
o Which bank will the trust be in? – Wells Fargo. I understand that people aren’t comfortable with that, but this is a time sensitive issue.
o Can other options be considered? – Yes, but it takes time to transfer funds to a credit union. We need to help people in jail now.
o Is there a deadline or a maximum amount of time we would allow the money to stay in the Wells Fargo trust fund account? – I had to go to Sacramento to file papers with the state to declare OO as an unincorporated association. We are waiting for that to be finalized. It would take no more than two weeks for this process to be finalized so that we can open an account in a credit union. (More information regarding the trust fund Mr. Fong is describing
o Pros
+ We need to go ahead and do this.
+ This is time sensitive! People are in jail and need help!
+ OWS wants us to put this money to good use.
+ We have a priority to keep people safe.
+ Cons
# We shouldn’t wait until arraignment. We should get them out now, and not wait for bail to be lowered.
# Money shouldn’t be used for medical and bail needs. We have daily operations that need to be addressed here at the camp.

I just want to remind everyone of what the proposal says. The money is earmarked for medical/legal use from OWS. That is the stipulation.

* You can only bail one person out with that money. We need to deepen our relationship with the National Lawyers Guild. We need to stage demonstrations and mobilize to get people out of jail…we need to be careful about just giving our money to Babylon.



Yes: 162

No: 8

It would have saved some trouble simply to quote them, which I would have done had I been able to moderate 24/7 as usual.

Jack Crow's picture
Submitted by Jack Crow on

"Write off" is a banking and insurance term, as in "off the books." Guess your purity problem excludes you from the revolution, now?

ChePasa's picture
Submitted by ChePasa on

Look at my initial post in the thread.

The link is there.

BDBlue's picture
Submitted by BDBlue on

I've been out of it for a couple of days, did something else happen in Oakland? Or is this a reference to the protests that closed the port, took over the Travel Aid building and had some minor property damage? Maybe it's because I used to live in LA, but if it's the latter, whether the actions were a good idea or a bad idea, I'd hardly call that a riot (unless I worked for Rupert Murdoch). But seriously was there more civil unrest in Oakland?

ChePasa's picture
Submitted by ChePasa on

unless you want to characterize the police actions on October 25/26 and November 2/3 as police riots.

Jack Crow's picture
Submitted by Jack Crow on

The best candidate I can fathom, and it's really stretching the word "riot," is the episode involving the police effort to evict homeless people from a squat and the defense of that squat by a Occupy associated people in hoodies and handkerchiefs.


But I think this is part of a larger trend to police anyone with a hint of actual revolutionary fervor out of the Occupy movement, in favor of ameliorative reformism.

Submitted by lambert on

I don't think it makes sense to write off Oakland -- though I could use a little more evidence than "It's explained. Really."

Heck, they shut down the port, and peacefully!

But last I checked, window smashing and the firesetting are, if not "rioting," certainly riot-like. So replace "rioting" with vandalism, eh?

okanogen's picture
Submitted by okanogen on

I read the minutes, such as they were. Something smells weird. The need for a trust fund is non-controversial. But if they can set up a trust fund at Wells Fargo, why can't they set up a trust fund at a credit union? The whole issue of getting status as a non-profit is a canard. If they need it for a credit union account surely they also need it for the Wells Fargo account?

Regarding "riots", can't get on board. First, because I haven't seen anything that looked like a riot to me, but second and primarily I don't particularly like the "Occupy Oakland breaks windows" line. OO didn't break any windows, a group of assholes (aka Black Bloc), in a pathetic attempt to lend themselves legitimacy by taking advantage of a greater movement, did that.

But yeah, I think it's fair to say that overall, between OO's inability to forcefully defend the Occupy movements characteristic non-violent, non-vandalizing character, and their ham-handed handling of Occupy Wall Street's donation right back into Wells Fargo, that OO is lost some of its luster as a vanguard of the Occupy movement, despite the awesome overall success of the General Strike. I mean, OWS won't criticize them publicly, but do you think they will donate more money before OO gets this sorted out? It's a PR disaster, so, fat chance.

Luckily, there are a lot of other places beyond Oakland.

okanogen's picture
Submitted by okanogen on

Glad to see we agree!

Jeff W's picture
Submitted by Jeff W on

if they can set up a trust fund at Wells Fargo, why can't they set up a trust fund at a credit union? The whole issue of getting status as a non-profit is a canard.

That's a misreading of the minutes. The minutes say

I had to go to Sacramento to file papers with the state to declare OO as an unincorporated association. We are waiting for that to be finalized. It would take no more than two weeks for this process to be finalized so that we can open an account in a credit union

[Presumably "I" is Mr Fong, the attorney.]

They're not “setting up” a trust fund at Wells Fargo—or at least the minutes don’t say that; I'd surmise that the attorney, Mr Fong, has a trust account at Wells Fargo—he is holding the money in trust until Occupy Oakland is registered as an unincorporated association. Presumably Occupy Oakland has to be registered as some recognized legal entity to have an an account somewhere—otherwise the credit union or other financial institution is holding the money in the names of the people who opened the account, not in the name of Occupy Oakland. Could Mr Fong have set up a trust account at a credit union? It depends if the particular institution qualifies as qualifies as an eligible institution but my guess is Mr Fong probably already has an established trust account at Wells Fargo or he knows that Wells Fargo qualifies as eligible (or both). In any event, the funds are just being held there until the two weeks pass and Occupy Oakland is registered as an unincorporated association.

I can imagine few aspects of anything having to do with the Occupy movement that warrant less attention than this holding of funds, especially on an extremely short-term basis, in a trust account.

okanogen's picture
Submitted by okanogen on

So then real issue is that the attorney OO picked didn't understand the optics. Which is too bad. Growing pains.

Thanks for the link. From that:

IOLTA Leadership Banks

By paying at least 1 percent net yield on IOLTA accounts or a rate higher than required by law, the following Leadership Banks have surpassed eligibility requirements, resulting in an increase in legal aid funding for indigent and low-income people. Because of their generosity, these banks contribute to the expansion of access to justice in their communities.

Bancorp Bank, Community Bank of San Joaquin, Santa Cruz County Bank,
Bank of Sacramento, First Republic Bank, Summit State Bank,
Bank of the Sierra, Mission National Bank, Valley Business Bank,
Borel Private Bank & Trust, Montecito Bank and Trust, Wedbush Bank
Center Bank, Pan American Bank

Wells Fargo is part of the very much larger list of "eligible" banks.

This isn't that big a deal, just really ham-fisted.

Submitted by ohio on

There's a very very good chance no credit union can handle a business account.

I don't know for sure, since I'm not there. But our local credit unions can't accept business accounts, so for my small business, I have to use one of the evil ones. Or only accept cash. Which I would do if people paid me in cash, but they don't.

So if someone is sitting there holding $X on behalf of someone else, it is in everyone's interest that the money go somewhere where no single person controls it. This is precisely what banks were supposed to do---be a place where you could stash your cash so no one single person can abscond with it.

Wells-Fargo is a surprise, and not just for it's bankster-yness. Wasn't there something about money laundering going on with them? Yes, I could look it up and that would mean doing a search and I have coffee to drink.

Yes, it would have been nice if they had opened an account at a small institution, but life isn't perfect. Maybe this attorney had a relationship with the people at the local branch (I do and it does make a difference) that meant getting the account opened with the right set up for those involved.

I'm not excusing, just offering an alternative view that makes sense to me.

YMMV, natch.

Submitted by lambert on

Tall poppies get cut down, but rhizomes spread and spread. irresistably, and cutting them up just makes more of them. Horizontal scaling!

The history of the 20th C is full of very bad outcomes from revolutionary vanguards that led to millions of deaths. No vanguards!

DCblogger's picture
Submitted by DCblogger on

it clearly shows demonstrators smashing windows

somewhere on one of these threads lambert posted a photo of a coffee shop who had been smashed and trashed. The coffee shop had supported the protest and had given them free food.

I can't support a group that allows such things to be done.

Can someone link to the GA minutes, maybe timing required them to deposit with Wells Fargo, but between the violence and doing business with Wells Fargo, I am really not feeling any solidarity with Oakland.

Submitted by lambert on


It's probably best for all concerned that you don't feel any solidarity with Occupy Oakland.

Ah. A revolutionary vanguard. Alrighty then. So much for horizontal scaling.

Submitted by lambert on

Keep it up, since you only damage the tactics you defend, which I think is good.

jumpjet's picture
Submitted by jumpjet on

capable of executing a general strike in the United States in 2011. Taking a quick look around, that seems like a very rare commodity. Even if I were in a position to 'write them off,' which I am not, I would not. Their achievements thus far outweigh their offenses.

Submitted by Randall Kohn on

But if it's only temporary, is that enough to write off OO?

As pointed out above, breaking windows is vandalism, and that's not good. But again, it's not rioting. So is that enough to write off OO?

Binary thinking can be a kill switch.

okanogen's picture
Submitted by okanogen on

Maybe I've come off wrong before.

It's not at all fair to write off Occupy Oakland, or even to phrase it that way. Being seen as condoning vandalism (which I don't think Occupy Oakland is responsible for) may be a problem (jury out), using Wells Fargo is head-shaking and can't have pleased OWS that donated them the money (like really, wtf?), but hell, the General Strike was awesome. Keep the faith.

Bryan's picture
Submitted by Bryan on

First off, there are things that can only be done legally through a commercial bank that is part of the Federal Reserve system. It is one of the things you learn when you start a business.

The attorney is holding the money in trust until the organization can legally open its own account, and already has an existing account for that purpose, There would be questions if he did it any other way, and he is doing this pro bono so he doesn't need any extra work. It is a business account, so he has it in a commercial bank. There are accounting rules for this type of transaction. I don't imagine that anyone at Wells Fargo is going to get a promotion for having it in their bank.

I would have thought that the previous extended discussion made it rather clear that Occupy Oakland is not happy with vandalism. Members returned to where it happened and helped in the clean up.

Every location is a unique situation, and there are no guidelines, because there is no central authority to issue them. Each location establishes its own rules based on the consensus of the people involved.

wuming's picture
Submitted by wuming on

Well, it was bound to come out sooner or later, and since I have made a donation to Corrente in the past, I am linked to this site.

I am Tim Fong, the attorney in question here. To clear up the questions, about the Wells Fargo situation, please read here:
An Open Letter to Occupy Oakland

Aeryl's picture
Submitted by Aeryl on

What has happened here as you explain seemed the most likely explanation, with no nefarious motives involved, and of course it is just the type of thing to attract the attention of the MSM(Mainstream Smear Machine) to discredit the movement.

Kudos for doing what you did, and screw those who don't get it.

Submitted by hipparchia on

thank you for providing important support to an occupation. thank you for stepping into the breech when no one else would, or could, whichever the case may have been. thank you for putting human lives and safety above pr. and how cool is it that a corrente poster did all this? way cool.

Submitted by lambert on

As I keep saying, I have huge RL issues, and I'm not moderating with my accustomed vigilance and timeliness. So I'm making this comment later than I ought to be. But thanks for doing this.

okanogen's picture
Submitted by okanogen on

I was wrong to slag you and I apologize. The minutes were skeletal which is my only excuse. I appreciate your work and your openness and always your comments here too.

ChePasa's picture
Submitted by ChePasa on

The people who jump all over Occupy Oakland solely because something they don't like appears in the paper (in this case it was an unsupported-by-evidence story in the San Jose Mercury News) really need to check themselves.

Why are they so easily manipulated by the media? Why can't they be bothered to follow up themselves if they see a story like this one, and why can't they actually go to the minutes of the meeting wherein the matter was discussed? (Minutes that were mentioned in the news story but not linked to, but were linked to by me here, though that linkage was ignored.)

And why, especially, are they so insistent on ascribing Bad Intentions on the efforts of those involved with Occupy Oakland?

What's up with that? Really.

Submitted by lambert on

... after I requested them on a previous thread. When RL permits, which should be soon, I will certainly circle back to them, never fear. Since I did notice that you only posted a link, and not extracts or analysis.

As for "why they are so insistent," assuming, arguendo, that they are, why do you think? Or do you just prefer to leave the question hanging?

I, for one, don't "jump all over" Occupy Oakland. I "jump all over" violence and vandalism advocates because I think their analysis is sloppy, and that they damage the Occupations, which I want to thriv.. And that's before we get to the question of police infiltration.

So, unless you can point me to the GA resolution supporting violence and vandalism, please don't identify attacks on those tactics with attacks on Occupy Oakland as such.

ChePasa's picture
Submitted by ChePasa on

My post of the link to the minutes of the relevant Occupy Oakland GA -- and my analysis of the import of what was said in those minutes -- went up about an hour after DCBlogger posted the story from the Mercury News. It's the first comment.

The fact that you didn't see it or bother to read it is really not my problem or responsibility -- or anyone else's. It's yours. The information was there, and it was there when you demanded that I post a link to the minutes. It was there when DC wanted a link, too.

The Mercury News article did not link to the source; it's been my experience -- but maybe not yours -- that it is very unwise to draw conclusions from news items like that, especially not in such highly charged circumstances. I don't feel any need to re-quote what I wrote at the time -- since wuming/Tim Fong linked to his explanation of what he did and why, although he did not extract or analyze it for you.

This is what DC said, based on the Mercury News article:

Between this and the riot, I think we can write off Occupy Oakland.

First, there was no riot by Occupy Oakland, and the Mercury News (and the other outlets that picked up the story) did not bother to find out what really happened with regard to WF or why. I call what DC wrote an attack on Occupy Oakland.

Many, many others joined in when they heard about the Wells Fargo trust account, though thankfully most of the people who post here are wiser than that and actually looked further and tried to get more information before casting stones.
You've been asked several times to name these violence advocates you feel must condemn so strongly.

Who are you condemning? Specifically. Name them. Is there anyone posting on this site who fits your definition of "Black Bloc wannabe?"

Arguments against Black Bloc tactics are widespread and very well known.

Arguments on behalf of Black Bloc tactics are not. Most people have no idea what Black Bloc is. Posting information about Black Bloc, including primary documentation of arguments in favor of Black Bloc tactics is not advocacy. It is informational.

Submitted by lambert on

First, as I've said several times already, RL and the advent of the heating season, mean that I've made some unforced errors on this thread, like missing the initial link to the minutes (though IRRC I'd previously made the same request on another thread).

Second, nothing "speaks for itself." Not Occupier YouTubes, and not the San Jose Mercury News.

Third, this was a short form post on a long form topic. The post started out as almost a quick hit, and in fact both the headline and the quote were accurate as far as they went, which was not far enough.

Fourth, as a matter of commenting technique, at least on important and/or contested topics, it's better to link and quote than only to link, especially since only linking is implicitly an argument from authority.

Finally, as a matter of method, I think it's best to quote our famously free press only on matters of concrete and verifiable detail, and not to accept their interpretation of anything. Fortunately these days we have twitter, and the minutes, and a lot of other sources. That means we bloggers have to go to new levels of curation, but that's not a bad thing at all.

Finally, IMNSHO Black Block tactics of vandalism/violence suck, as do and have the arguments in favor of those tactics.

NOTE Last I checked, Rupert Murdoch would be very unlikely to employ a tireless single payer advocate. Just saying.

ChePasa's picture
Submitted by ChePasa on

It's generally useful to at least try to listen to and understand other people's point of view, something that can be very difficult or impossible in a hit-and-run environment such as we often find on the internet.

I think most of us are well aware of your opinion of Black Bloc tactics, but when you first started in on the topic, apparently you didn't even know what Black Bloc was.

It's always good to check our assumptions and try to find out more...

Sometimes it's wiser not to say anything about a topic when one only has sketchy information or assumptions to go by. I know that all too well, having fallen into the trap of commenting from ignorance myself. More than once.

While I'm not an Anarchist, neither am I an authoritarian.

I expect people to be able to think for themselves, to think critically, and to be able to find information and make their best judgement about what they find -- without being told what to think or even how they should go about the task of finding and considering information. On the other hand, if I have pertinent information, I will usually try to share it. But sharing information is neither a directive to believe it nor is it advocacy.

It's information.

But then, as we know, views differ.

okanogen's picture
Submitted by okanogen on

Your assumptions about what we should know are deliberately vaque. Create a post, you have the power you know and it would be more effective than arguing with people over how ignorant you think they are.

ChePasa's picture
Submitted by ChePasa on

on Black Bloc, and I can't control whether you or anyone reads or watches it, I don't understand the issue you're trying to get at.

What you say I have the power to do, I have done, indeed I have been doing it consistently -- or at least trying to.

The argument seems to be over something else entirely.