The latest installment of the Occupy Wall Street protests is an action begun Tuesday called Occupy Our Homes, the centerpiece of which comes as activists plan to move people into foreclosed homes to protest what they say are unfair lending practices by banks. There are 25 actions planned nationwide, with five actually involving protesters moving into homes. The rest of the actions are either demonstrations in support of homeowners resisting eviction or more direct actions such as the one in Denver where Occupy protesters planned to collect trash from in front of abandoned homes and deposit it at the front door of Mayor Michael Hancock.
The real focus is on taking back the foreclosed homes, and that's just gotten underway. After taking a house in New York at about 3:30 p.m., activists plan to reclaim another house in Chicago and three more in California -- one in Oakland and one in the Los Angeles area. As they happen, we'll provide coverage of the protesters' efforts to move families into the homes they've lost to foreclosure.
New York: Leading the coordinated actions in Eastern Standard Time, protesters here occupied the first house of the day at 3:30 p.m., after about 1,000 people marched through the Brownsville and East New York neighborhoods in Brooklyn. When they arrived at the home at 702 Vermont Street, a cleaning crew went in to start making the place habitable, and demonstrators hung banners outside. The protesters are working with the family that lost the home, and the plan is to have them move back in.
"There were more than 1,000 people surrounding the house," said Occupy Wall Street spokesman Patrick Bruner. "We had people on the roof and there was a ladder lowered down. People occupied the house, and we set up some simple structures and banners and so on. Now it's getting dark and there are about four police vans that have rolled up, but things are still pretty calm." He said several hundred demonstrators were still on the scene, and police hadn't tried to stop them from taking over the house.
M. Gould-Wartofsky tweeted this photo of the occupied house:
Chicago (updated 5:45 p.m. EST): The second house takeover got underway here at 3:30 p.m., local time, when organizers announced two formerly homeless women and a 1-year-old baby would move into a house whose owner had decided to move out months ago rather than face foreclosure. "In the ensuing months, this 'walk away' home was vandalized, sprayed with grafitti, and stripped of its pipes, sinks, and heating units," Occupy Our Homes wrote on its website. "Crackheads came in and turned it into a crackhouse," Chicago Anti-Eviction Campaign's J.R. Fleming said. "They stripped all the copper out of the unit, they stripped out all the aluminum." It was the only abandoned house on the block. "We decided to hook up with the homeowner and ask if we could move some folks in there," Fleming said, and after proving to police that homeowner Brenda Walker had given her blessing, they arranged for Ebonee Stevenson, Shirley Henderson, and Stevenson's 1-year-old cousin to move in. On Tuesday, after a prep crew had replaced the fixtures, piping and wiring, the new tenants moved in, with about 30 to 40 approving neighbors and community organizers looking on, Fleming said. They got no resistance from police, he said, but "We have our attorneys outside, we’re waiting for engagement."