A CONCRETE PROPOSAL
Costly Freedom in Afghanistan
Opposition to Charter Schools
Fight for Water
Ronald j. Morgan
Health Care Crisis Will Continue
Occupying a House Auction
Race, Gender, & Occupy
Occupied Higher Ed
Unpredicatable Life of the Occupy Movement
Zuccotti Park Press
STATE OF THE U.S.
Investing in Obama
Nicolas J.S. Davies
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Occupying a House Auction
I’d never been to a house auction before, so when I heard about a “Stop the Sale” action to save the home of two Oakland residents, I went to the Alameda County Courthouse, entered the building, and looked all around. But I didn’t see any protesters. Finally, I asked at the information desk and was told the auction was being held outside on the south steps overlooking Fallon Street. Outside, on the steps? Really?
Exiting the building, I heard a din from around the corner. As I turned the corner, I stepped into a world of beating drums, banging pots and pans, and the rhythmic chanting of people. Demonstrations are often loud, sometimes very loud, but this was beyond loud. Over 100 people were gathered on the steps, pressed tightly around a man clutching a fistful of documents. He was clearly the auctioneer and he seemed to be reading from the documents. His lips were moving, but no words could make their way through the din.
“Occupy Oakland” read a large sign being held above the auctioneer’s head. All around were signs and banners declaring “Stop the Sale.” Many people were wearing red shirts with the words “Causa Justa” and “Just Cause.”
No buyers seemed to be present. Perhaps they’d been driven away by the noise. After a few minutes the auctioneer left, presumably giving up, and a woman took up a bullhorn. “It’s not over,” she yelled, urging us to stay. Speaking both in Spanish and English, she told us the auctioneer was likely to return and make the sale if we left.
The home we were there to save belonged to Nell Myhand and Synthia Green. Synthia had suffered a stroke, resulting in blindness. They’d gone through lengthy loan modification applications and, in the midst of these procedures, Chase Bank—which may not have had legal title—put it up for auction. The speaker explained that if the house were not sold this afternoon, it would take the bank a month or more to schedule another auction. The bank would be forced back into negotiations with the women.
On the street below, cars drove by, some of them honking and waving to us. “We need noise over here,” someone yelled, interrupting the speaker and directing us to the corner. A second auctioneer had appeared, this one black. I guessed that they’d substituted him for the previous one, who was white, thinking such a tactic might work. But the protesters were color blind and this auctioneer got the same reception as his predecessor.
“Not for sale,” began a chant. “Not for sale, Not for sale.” Someone at the edge of the gathering was beating a drum. Soon the chant—and even the drum—were drowned out as pots and pans went into action. The auctioneer stepped out onto the sidewalk and began walking along 12th Street, with the crows hot on his heels. Sheriff’s deputies didn’t interfere with us, but cautioned us to stay off the street.
“Banks got bailed out—we got sold out,” we chanted, following the auctioneer down the street, carefully remaining on the sidewalk. The auctioneer sometimes spoke to the deputies, presumably asking them to intervene, but they were only concerned with keeping us off the street. “Mic check,” someone called out. The pots and pans were silenced. “This man works for Lender Processing Services,” a speaker told us and explained that to be auctioning houses, the law required that the auctioneer be bonded. “This man is not bonded.”
The procession resumed with the un-bonded auctioneer walking up and down the sidewalk, attempting to escape us and get back to selling the house. More people were arriving. There looked to be about 200 people now. Up and down the street, we dogged the auctioneer. This went on for an hour until, finally, the auctioneer gave up and left.
We stopped the sale, and if they tried to put the home back on the auction block, we’d show up again. We gathered around Nell, who thanked us for our support. Rarely at a demonstration do we see immediate results. This day we did. Foreclosure disproportionately affects women and since this all happened on International Women’s Day, it was an appropriate day for this action.
Daniel Borgström is an occupier at Occupy Oakland. He writes about progressive actions; his website is at http://danielborgstrom.blogspot.com.
Z Magazine Archive
CUBAN 5 - From May 30 to June 5, supporters of the Cuban 5 will gather in Washington DC to raise awareness about the case and to demand a humanitarian solution that will allow the return of these men to their homeland.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com.
BIKES - Bikes Not Bombs is holding its 24th annual Bike- A-Thon and Green Roots Festival in Boston, MA on June 3, with several bike rides, music, exhibitors, and more.
Contact: Bikes Not Bombs, 284 Amory St., Jamaica Plain, MA 02130; 617-522-0222; mailbikesnotbombs.org; www.bikesnotbombs.org.
LEFT FORUM - The 2013 Left Forum will be held June 7-9, at Pace University in NYC.
Contact: 365 Fifth Avenue, CUNY Graduate Center, Sociology Dept., New York, NY 10016; http://www.leftforum.org/.
VEGAN FEST - Mad City Vegan Fest will be held in Madison, WI, June 8. The annual event features food, speakers, and exhibitors.
Contact: 122 State Street, Suite 405 B, Madison, WI 53701; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://veganfest.org/.
ADC CONFERENCE - The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) holds its annual conference June 13-16 in Washington, DC, with panel discussions and workshops.
Contact: 1990 M Street, Suite 610, Washington, DC, 20036; 202-244-2990; convention @adc. org http://convention.adc.org/.
CUBA/SOCIALISM - A Cuban-North American Dialog on Socialist Renewal and Global Capitalist Crisis will be held in Havana, Cuba, June 16-30. There will be a 5-day Seminar at the University of Havana, plus visits to a co-op and educational and medical institutions.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.globaljustice center.org/.
NETROOTS - The 8th Annual Netroots Nation conference will take place June 20-23 in San Jose, CA. The event features panels, trainings, networking, screenings, and keynotes.
Contact: 164 Robles Way, #276, Vallejo, CA 94591; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.netrootsnation.org/.
MEDIA - The 15th annual Allied Media Conference will be held June 20-23, in Detroit.
Contact: 4126 Third Street, Detroit, MI 48201; http://alliedmedia.org/.
GRASSROOTS - The United We Stand Festival will be hosted by Free & Equal, June 22 in Little Rock, Arkansas. The festival aims to reform the electoral process in the U.S.
LITERACY - The National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) will hold its conference July 12-13 in Los Angeles.
Contact: 10 Laurel Hill Drive, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003; http://namle.net/conference/.
IWW - The North American Work People’s College will take place July 12-16 at Mesaba Co-op Park in northern Minnesota. The event will bring together Wobblies from across the continent to learn skills and build one big union.
PEACESTOCK - On July 13, the 11th Annual Peacestock will take place at Windbeam Farm in Hager City, WI. The event is a mixture of music, speakers, and community for peace. Sponsored by Veterans for Peace.
Contact: Bill Habedank, 1913 Grandview Ave., Red Wing, MN 55066; 651-388-7733; email@example.com; http://www. peacestockvfp.org.
LA RAZA - The annual National Council of La Raza (NCLR) Conference is scheduled for July 18-19 in New Orleans, with workshops, presentations, and panel discussions.
Contact: NCLR Headquarters Office, Raul Yzaguirre Building, 1126 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036; 202-785-1670; www.nclr.org.
ACTIVIST CAMP - Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp will have sessions in July and August in Ben Lomond, CA; Portland, OR; Charlton, MA. YEA Camp is designed for activists 12-17 years old who want to make a difference.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://yeacamp.org/.