Eight Months On, Still Fighting Foreclosures
One of Occupy Wall Street’s enduring legacies is the Occupy Our Homes movement, which successfully managed to protect families from evictions when the government didn't seem overly concerned by an epidemic of foreclosures.
In February, Helen Bailey, a 78-year-old former civil rights activist who was threatened with foreclosure by JPMorgan Chase, was able to stay in her home following a successful campaign by Occupy Nashville. A Detroit husband and wife who spent months worrying they could be evicted from their home of twenty-two years received the news that they would be permitted to stay after an aggressive campaign that was led by members of Moratorium Now, Occupy Detroit and Homes Before Banks and included the family’s supporters blocking the contractor from placing the dumpster.
Occupy Atlanta prevented the eviction of a family when two dozen protesters encamped on the family’s lawn, and Occupy Our Homes delayed another foreclosure in Rochester, as did Occupy Cleveland in November.
And the list goes on.
These kinds of Occupy victories used to receive a fair amount of news coverage, though never at the same level as the more dramatic aspects of the movement, such as violent camp evictions and mass arrests. However, as of late, the work done by Occupy Our Homes has almost entirely dropped off the media radar.
“VICTORY: Monique White Wins Negotiation to Save Her Home!”, “A Victory for Lesliane Bouchard”, “Minneapolis: Homeowner Demands—and Gets—Meeting with CEO of Bank Foreclosing on Her Home”, the Occupy Our Homes website trumpets, and yet, barring any local coverage of these stories, Occupy’s victories have for the most part gone untold.
Not only have Occupy’s successfully thwarted evictions gone unreported, but the establishment media has more or less completely lost interest in the ongoing epidemic of foreclosures. Just as Occupy is no longer shiny and new, so too have the images of families being ousted from their homes grown tiresome and repetitive and, like, totally depressing.
In Atlanta, a Dekalb County sheriff evicted a four-generation family, which had been occupying its home, in a 3 a.m. raid several weeks ago. Christine Frazer, a widow who lost her job in 2009 and lived in her home for eighteen years, shared her story with Occupy Our Homes:
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The group says the early morning raid resembled a drug bust, with officers sneaking across Frazer’s property in the middle of the night before fifty officers stormed her home to serve an eviction notice.
Occupy Our Homes claims Frazer’s home was foreclosured on fraudulently by Investors One Corporation in October 2011, and she has been fighting it in court ever since. In January, activists set up camp on her lawn and told the Frazer family they would defend her home.
Sheriff Thomas Brown said police used “intelligence” to wait until the activists were not present at the home to guard it, and neighbors were asleep, to serve the unprecedented eviction, which includes kicking out Frazer’s 85-year-old mother and 3-year-old grandson. Occupy alleges that police refused to allow Frazer to shower or her elderly mother to get dressed, instructing Frazer to behave as if it were a fire drill. Adding insult to injury, the police then rounded up her dogs and took them to the pound. Police then blockaded the neighborhood and wouldn’t allow anyone to secure the family’s valuable personal belongings from the curb.
“Once again, it is clear that the government and our law enforcement officials are being used to serve and protect the interest of the 1% and not of ordinary people or even the laws that they have put in place," Occupy Our Homes said in a press release. "Occupy Atlanta is more committed than ever to the fight for Chris Frazer’s home, and the thousands of other homeowners just like her who are being disrespected every day."
The militarization of local police when it comes to drug raids or even routine searches has rightfully received much media attention and condemnation from the public, particularly when it comes to terrible stories like the police officer in Texas who shot Cisco the dog without reason. But the same level of condemnation isn’t present when a four-generation family has its home raided in the dead of night as though local police discovered a drug cartel in the basement.
The absurdity of this hostile raid, combined with the fact that Frazer’s lawyer claims there is evidence of fraud because there’s a break in the chain of title—a surprisingly common bit of sloppy bookkeeping that occurs as banks shuffle around mortgage papers and never bother to keep track of which institution actually owns the house—should be enough reason to allow Frazer and her family to remain in their home until the courts can work things out.
“Now, I’m not saying all bankers out there are wicked, but I think there are a lot of them that turned their heads when they knew what was going on,” says Frazer, “And it was just that old, evil thing called greed.”