| SAN FRANCISCO
SAN FRANCISCO Dec 6 Anti-Wall Street
protesters, seeking a new focus as cities across the country
shut down two-month old Occupy encampments, launched a new wave
of activism on Tuesday by rallying around homeowners as they
try to resist evictions from foreclosed homes.
Protesters gathered outside a home in a depressed San
Francisco neighborhood, while in nearby Oakland they took over
a vacant bank-owned property and offered it as shelter to
homeless people. In Los Angeles, they helped a former Marine
move his belongings back into his foreclosed home.
In Philadelphia, protesters said they were moving toward a
similar strategy to focus public attention on big banks and
other lenders who benefited from taxpayer-funded bailouts only
to turn around and foreclose on taxpayers.
The shift came after authorities in many U.S. cities, often
citing health and safety conditions, moved to dismantle protest
camps that sprang up as part of the Occupy movement against
economic inequality and excesses of the U.S. financial system.
"People are refusing to leave," said Vivian Richardson,
speaking in front of her home in a San Francisco neighborhood
where she is fighting eviction. "Today is national reoccupy our
Activists announced a coordinated series of actions in
several large cities organized by a dozen loosely affiliated
housing rights groups. A handful of earlier attempts to take
over vacant or foreclosed property in the San Francisco Bay
area failed when protesters were evicted by police.
"These actions are part of a national kick-off for a new
frontier for the Occupy movement: the liberation of vacant
bank-owned homes for those in need, and the defense of families
under threat of foreclosure and eviction," the Alliance of
Californians for Community Empowerment said in a statement.
Richardson called for a moratorium on foreclosures in
California and a reduction of all mortgages to the current
market values of the homes.
'SHALL NOT BE MOVED'
Franzo King, leader of St. John Coltrane African Orthodox
Church in San Francisco, vowed to stay in his home past Jan. 4,
when it is scheduled for foreclosure sale.
"We shall not be moved," King said at the press conference.
"I intend to resist."
King said he was told when he took out his loan from Wells
Fargo that he would be given the opportunity to restructure it
later. Instead his payment went up from $1,200 a month to
$2,800 a month, which is more than he could pay, and the bank
has not been willing to modify it, he said.
Wells Fargo spokesperson Vickee Adams told Reuters the loan
could not be reduced to a point where King could make payments
and have any income left for his other living expenses.
Adams said Wells Fargo had modified more than 700,000 loans
nationwide and forgiven about $4 billion in principal owed by
homeowners since October 2009. But she said a foreclosure
moratorium "would not support the recovery of the housing
In Los Angeles, former Marine Arturo de los Santos, 46, led
a group of supporters in an effort to retake his home, which
was foreclosed upon six months ago but remained vacant.
"We want our house back. We feel it was taken wrongfully
from us," he said in a telephone interview before driving a
U-Haul to retake his home, along with supporters.
"We tried doing it the right way and it didn't work, now
we're trying a protest," he said.