Occupy Sacramento still making noise

The local group, while depleted in numbers, recently occupied the Wells Fargo bank on Capitol Mall

Occupy Sacramento activist Faygo protests outside the Wells Fargo building on March 28.

Occupy Sacramento activist Faygo protests outside the Wells Fargo building on March 28.

photo by dave kempa

Independent reporting for this story is funded by a grant from Sacramento Emergency Foodlink.

Looks like these guys are still around.

Last Thursday, March 28, two women chained themselves to an old stagecoach in the lobby of the Wells Fargo building on Capitol Mall, while a couple dozen fellow Occupy Sacramento and Occupy Stockton activists protested what they viewed to be the bank’s unethical foreclosure practices in California.

The protest resulted in no arrests—firemen cut through the women’s chains, and police officers gave them the option to walk out of the building on their own volition to rejoin the protest outside—but the building’s front entrance was locked for a good part of the afternoon, much to the enjoyment of the protesters and the chagrin of Wells Fargo customers.

While the activists left with the view that the day was a success, Sacramentans who saw the protest found themselves asking fewer questions about Wells Fargo’s foreclosure practices and more about Occupy itself. For example:

“This is still a thing?”

Apparently, yes.

“It’s shrunk down, but the infrastructure is still there,” said Occupy Sacramento’s Cres Vellucci, standing among the remaining protesters outside of the Wells Fargo building last Thursday. “Oddly enough, there’s more infrastructure now than there was at the beginning.”

Gone are the days of the tents and volunteer kitchens, the Oakland riots and pepper spray-dispensing UC Davis cops, the teeming masses jockeying for position against an armored New York Police Department outside the New York Stock Exchange. Today’s Occupy is something lighter, if more focused.

An Occupy Sacramento staple who goes by the name “Faygo” told SN&R last month that the group continues to hold its weekly general-assembly meeting on Sunday afternoons outside of City Hall, with about a dozen people usually showing up.

In some ways, they work on a more granular level, such as trying to help local residents facing foreclosure fight to keep their homes. But they also put their weight behind legislation when they can.

In January, for instance, Faygo, who is homeless, helped put together a demonstration outside the state Capitol in support of democratic Assemblyman Tom Ammiano’s proposed Homeless Person’s Bill of Rights. This event paled heavily in comparison to Occupy’s previous numbers.

It also yielded a lukewarm response from the assemblyman’s office. While Ammiano’s staffers did speak briefly with protesters that day, they seemed reluctant to align themselves too closely with Occupy on a bill that was already dealing with backlash. Ammiano told SN&R that his office had not been aware of the demonstration, but that they were happy to get any support they could.

Asked at the demonstration whether any local or state-level politicians have been receptive to their message, Occupy Sacramento’s members hesitated, but then brought up the California Homeowner Bill of Rights, which passed in July 2012, and went into effect January 1 of this year. This was a victory to them, though their fight to put a statewide moratorium on home foreclosures failed.

Occupy Sacramento’s protestors remained undaunted, despite their numbers.

“We wish more people would come out,” said Cathy Grahnert, one of the two women who chained themselves to the Wells Fargo stagecoach last week.

While the original plan was to have two local residents facing Wells Fargo foreclosures chain themselves to the carriage, one resident didn’t show up, and the other arrived to the protest too late. That’s when Grahnert and an Occupy Stockton protester decided to take up the chains themselves.

“We understand that we’re going to get small crowds,” said Grahnert, after being cut loose from the stagecoach by the fire department.

Small crowds or not, Occupy’s show goes on.