Monday, September 23, 2013

Bold Action Brings Historic Victory!

On March 18, Mildred Obi-Garrison, joined by Occupy Our Homes Atlanta, American Friends Service Committee, as well as dozens of supporters and community members, moved back into her home in an act of civil disobedience. Mildred had been evicted from her home in Stone Mountain, Georgia by Bank of America last November, despite years of fighting in the courts.

After securing her property back from the bank, supporters set up a 24-hour eviction defense at the home to fend off any possible eviction attempts by the police, and mounted a public pressure campaign against Bank of America, the servicer who had carried out the foreclosure and eviction. After holding a sit-in at a local branch, and gathering thousands of petition signatures online, Bank of America promptly reached out to Mildred and began negotiations.

Today, Mildred can claim victory as those negotiations have finally resulted in a deal that will keep her in her home permanently. Her fight for housing justice has just begun however, as she pledged today to continue the fight alongside the millions of others who are facing housing crisis. Today's win marks a historic victory for the movement, proving that solutions can be worked out, even after eviction.

The tactic of moving homeowners back in post-eviction harkens back to the days of the Great Depression, when communities would band together to move their neighbors' possessions back in after eviction, eventually leading to a moratorium being enacted in 27 states around the country. Bold actions like the ones taken by Ms. Obi and her community are necessary to fight the current crisis, which has left millions of Americans displaced since 2007.

Next month, Mildred will face a judge in Washington DC, for charges of unlawful entry for blocking the revolving doors of Covington and Burling, the white-collar law firm with clients such as Bank of America and JP Morgan Chase. The firm, once home to Attorney General Eric Holder, has maintained a consistent revolving door policy with the Department of Justice, who five years after the start of the crisis, has yet to prosecute a single top level Wall Street executive for the financial crisis. Instead, on October 7, the US Attorney will try Mildred along with two other grandmothers who were arrested alongside her. During Mildred's trip to DC her story was covered in the Rolling Stone!

Along with Occupy Our Homes Atlanta and AFSC, today's victory would not have been possible without the help of the National Action Network, and the Rainbow Push Coalition.

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