Protesters in Chicago target evictions, foreclosures

CHICAGO Wed May 16, 2012 5:45pm EDT

1 of 4. Chicago Police prevent protesters from placing furniture on the sidewalk in front of a bank during one of the demonstrations during the week ahead of the NATO meeting in Chicago, May 16, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Jim Young

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CHICAGO (Reuters) - About 150 protesters in Chicago marched to banks and government offices on Wednesday to demand a one-year moratorium on local home evictions and foreclosures, the latest in a series of demonstrations leading up to next week's NATO summit.

The protesters performed a piece of street theater at Daley Plaza featuring a bank trying to evict a family from their home, and neighbors stepping in to stop it.

More than two dozen Chicago police officers were on hand but no arrests were made. The demonstration included members of "Occupy Chicago" and Communities United Against Foreclosure and Eviction, a Chicago group.

One of the protesters, Jorge Ortiz, 30, of Chicago, said he is facing foreclosure on his condominium because he can no longer afford to make mortgage payments.

A graduate student and a teacher with two children, Ortiz said his monthly payments have jumped about $600 to $1,600, while local property values have plunged.

Holding a megaphone, Ortiz led the crowd in chants like "Whose house? Our house!"

"I've come to protest against foreclosures because the big banks used widespread fraud to kick people out of their homes," said David Goodner, 31, of Des Moines, Iowa, who has come with his family for the NATO protests as part of the Catholic Worker movement.

Eight anti-war protesters were arrested on Monday for refusing to leave the lobby of a high-rise building that houses President Barack Obama's campaign headquarters. Four protesters were arrested on Tuesday. A protest planned for Thursday will focus on environmental issues, organizers said.

The largest demonstration is expected to be on Sunday, when organizers hope thousands will show up for a rally and a march on the Chicago convention center where the two-day NATO summit is being held to discuss the military alliance's strategy in Afghanistan.

The meeting will draw representatives from some 50 countries, including leaders of the 28 members of the military alliance.

(Reporting By Mary Wisniewski; Editing by Xavier Briand)

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