White Powder Sent to Banks Was Cornstarch, Police Say

White powder found in envelopes sent to Wells Fargo & Co. (WFC) and JPMorgan Chase & Co. branches in New York City turned out to be cornstarch, police said.

Seven envelopes containing the powder were delivered yesterday -- five to Wells Fargo branches, one to a JPMorgan branch and one addressed to Mayor Michael Bloomberg, said Paul Browne, a spokesman for the New York City Police Department.

The envelopes contained the powder and messages that “indicated” a link to today’s May Day demonstrations, Browne said in an e-mail. All tested negative for anything toxic and appeared to be designed to frighten mail-room workers, he said.

“This is a reminder that you are not in control,” the messages read, according to Browne. “Just in case you needed some incentive to stop working. We have a little surprise for you.”

The senders “appeared to misjudge” the timing of the mail, since the letters arrived yesterday instead of today, Browne said.

The envelopes have “nothing to do with Occupy,” Bill Dobbs, a member of Occupy Wall Street’s press team, said in an interview at Bryant Park in midtown Manhattan.

“It’s actually distracting people from what May Day events are about, which is many people here and around the country giving an outcry for economic justice,” Dobbs said.

Occupy Wall Street held demonstrations today in New York to protest economic inequality, as did like-minded groups across the U.S.

Joseph Evangelisti, a spokesman for New York-based JPMorgan (JPM), declined to comment on the envelopes. Ancel Martinez, a spokesman for San Francisco-based Wells Fargo, didn’t immediately respond to a call for comment.

The mayor is the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News.

To contact the reporter on this story: Chris Dolmetsch in New York at cdolmetsch@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net

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