Plywood covered four of the picture windows in the Wells Fargo home mortgage office in Old Town Tacoma on Sunday. Inside a woman with a purple vacuum strapped to her back sucked shards from the carpet.
The vandalism of the storefront at 2215 N. 30th St. appears to be part of a larger social protest rather than a random act of mischief.
Vandals have targeted the San Francisco-based financial services company’s offices and ATMs in several states in opposition to its stake in The GEO Group – a private company that operates prisons including the Northwest Detention Center, a federal immigration lockup on the Tacoma Tideflats.
The News Tribune received an e-mail Saturday, claiming the weekend attack was "done in solidarity with the 13 people recently detained by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement in Shelton, WA and the people recently detained in San Francisco, CA." It’s not clear if any other local branches were hit, but the e-mail only mentioned one.
"They are blinded by their greed and will allow the most dreadful things to arise in their quest for profit," the e-mail continued. "… While the bankers count their money, the jailers in the detention center treat the people inside like subhumans." (The full e-mail is posted after the jump.)
Attempts to reach officials with Wells Fargo and GEO Group’s corporate offices Sunday were not successful. Tacoma police took a phone report on the incident, spokesman Mark Fulghum said.
Wells Fargo owns 8 percent of GEO Group’s stock, making it the third largest shareholder, according to federal Securities and Exchange Commission filings and fatpitch.biz, a Web site that compiles stock ownership information.
Wells Fargo held more than $51 million in GEO Group stock in its Advantage Small Cap Value fund at the end of September, according to the bank’s Web site.
In July, a study – released by the International Human Rights Clinic at Seattle University’s law school and the Seattle-based group OneAmerica, With Justice for All – alleged mistreatment at the Tacoma facility ranging from excessive strip searches and overcrowding to a lack of due process, the Associated Press reported.
A spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement called the report "a work of fiction."
Throughout the summer vandals have smashed windows, spray painted polemics and destroyed cash machines at Wells Fargo branches in California, Oregon and Washington, according to the September/October issue of Earth First!
The article says a branch in Tacoma was hit June 10 and "stop prisons" was spray painted on the wall. An independent media Web site also listed an August attack in Minneapolis.
Here’s the e-mail we received:
During the morning of October the Twenty Fifth, a group of people smashed out five of the six windows of a Wells Fargo Home Mortgage office in Tacoma, WA. The office was located in Old Town Tacoma, one of the cities wealthiest areas.
This was done in solidarity with the 13 people recently detained by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement in Shelton, WA and the people recently detained in San Francisco, CA.
Wells Fargo is like every other bank. As we all can see from the collapsing economy, these bankers do not care how they make their money so long as they make it. They are blinded by their greed and will allow the most dreadful things to arise in their quest for profit.
Wells Fargo, in its own quest for profit, finances GEO Group, a company which runs prisons across the planet. One such prison is the Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention center in the tideflats of Tacoma. While the bankers count their money, the jailers in the detention center treat the people inside like subhumans. These people in cages are only trying to work, to feed themselves and their families and to create a better life for themselves. For this they are jailed and portrayed as the enemy. Immigrants are not responsbile for the collapse of the economy. Bankers are.
It took years and years for the Nazis to create a fearful and hateful enough culture to allow things like the ghettos and the concentration camps to exist. We attack Wells Fargo because we see the same thing approaching. Everything in your head might be telling you the opposite, but if drive down to the detention center and stare at it, you will be looking at the blossoming seed of one thing:
To those of you reading this, please do not overeact to the use of this word. We do not use it lightly. And when we say it, we mean it.
Get a group together and hold a theatre performance in a Wells Fargo. Stand in a line and block ICE busses from enterring the prisons. Spit on ICE agents. Hold a picket in front of a Wells Fargo. Break their windows. Destroy their ATMS. Hide people with no documents. Set up an alert system. Do whatever it takes to stop what is coming.
Our hearts are with every person locked up in every cage. This act was for them and their families. We all need to act right now. If it was your mother in a cage you would not be idly sitting by as the bars close around more and more people.
This text will be sent to the Tacoma News Tribune, the Weekly Volcano, Kiro 7 News, King 5 News, Fox 13 News, The Stranger, Seattle Weekly and each of the West Coast Indymedia sites.