Thursday, 27 November 2014 / TRUTH-OUT.ORG

Foreclosure Victims Protesting Wall Street Impunity Outside DOJ Arrested, Tasered

Wednesday, 22 May 2013 11:58 By Rania Khalek and Craig O'Connor, Truthout | Report

Protesters gather at Freedom Plaza.Protesters gather at Freedom Plaza in preparation for a march to the Justice Department.Hundreds of foreclosed homeowners and housing rights activists rallied outside the Justice Department on Monday, May 20, to demand that Attorney General Eric Holder prosecute the Wall Street bankers responsible for the financial collapse and foreclosure crisis.

The protest lasted overnight and into Tuesday morning. Overall, 27 peaceful protesters were violently arrested - 17 on Monday and ten on Tuesday morning - and at least two of them were Tasered by officers from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Video footage taken Tuesday morning shows three police officers subduing and then Tasering Carmen Pittman, an Atlanta homeowner who fought tirelessly to save her grandmother's house from foreclosure in 2011. When asked for their names, those who were arrested identified themselves with the names of Wall Street bankers who, they believe, should be arrested.

The action was organized by the Home Defenders League.

"Five years after Wall Street crashed the economy, not one banker has been prosecuted for the reckless and fraudulent practices that cost millions of Americans their jobs, threw our cities and schools into crisis, and left families and communities ravaged by a foreclosure crisis and epidemic of underwater mortgages," the organizers said in a statement. Their demands include "meaningful relief for homeowners and prosecutions for the criminals at the top."

People came from all around the country to participate.

Curt and Theresa Hamilton traveled from Port Reading, New Jersey, with their two children to join the march. They fell behind on their mortgage payments after Curt lost his construction job in the economic collapse. Curt spent two years unemployed and is currently underemployed, making 75 percent of his former income. Nevertheless, IndyMac forced the Hamiltons into a loan modification with an even higher monthly payment than their original mortgage. The Hamiltons were served with a foreclosure summons in February and are desperately trying to keep their home.

"If I did the same things the banks did, they would charge me for loan sharking or racketeering," Curt told Truthout.

Gisele Mata told Truthout that she has been fighting Bank of America for a year a half. After she and her husband lost their jobs in 2009, they fell behind on their mortgage payments. Today, both Mata and her husband are underemployed, but their daughter contributes financially, making them a three-income household capable of paying the mortgage. But Bank of America argues that the family doesn't make enough money to qualify for a loan modification.

"I'm having to make choices between my mortgage payment and food," Mata said. "We make too much for food stamps, but we don't make enough to stay in our home."

Stories like Mata's are the reason so many people were outraged by Eric Holder's comments in March, when he told the Senate Judiciary Committee that Wall Street banks should not be prosecuted because doing so "will have a negative impact on the national economy, perhaps even the world economy." 

Protesters scolded Holder's remarks as they marched from Freedom Plaza to the main entrance of the Justice Department, which was barricaded by DC police and officers from DHS. After a handful of impassioned speeches, several struggling homeowners jumped the barricade. Officers quickly retreated into the building and shut the door. Before long, the barricade was torn down and hundreds of protesters flooded the exterior around the main entrance where they banged on the door and shouted, "Eric Holder, come on out!"

(All photos by Craig O'Connor)

People directly impacted by the foreclosure crisis march at the front of the demonstration. Rev. Calvin Peterson (bottom right) is the founder of Disabled In Action, an organization that helps advocate for people living in poverty with disabilities, including their right to fair housing. People directly impacted by the foreclosure crisis march at the front of the demonstration. Rev. Calvin Peterson (bottom right) is the founder of Disabled In Action, an organization that helps advocate for people living in poverty with disabilities, including their right to fair housing.

Activists see the US capital in the distance on their march from Freedom Plaza to the Justice Department.Activists see the US capital in the distance on their march from Freedom Plaza to the Justice Department.

Among the diverse crowd of marchers were struggling homeowners, victims of foreclosure and housing rights activists from all around the country.Among the diverse crowd of marchers were struggling homeowners, victims of foreclosure and housing rights activists from all around the country.

Police accompany protesters to clear a path for the march.Police accompany protesters to clear a path for the march.

A woman confronts police from the Department of Homeland Security outside the Justice Department.A woman confronts police from the Department of Homeland Security outside the Justice Department.

Protesters stage a sit-in outside the barricaded and heavily guarded main entrance to the Department of Justice.Protesters stage a sit-in outside the barricaded and heavily guarded main entrance to the Department of Justice.

 052213-6b

A struggling homeowner jumps over the police barricade surrounding the main entrance to the Department of Justice. A struggling homeowner jumps over the police barricade surrounding the main entrance to the Department of Justice.

052213-6aHomeland Security officers watch as protesters climb over the police barricade.

052213-6bDemonstrators approach the front doors of the Justice Department shouting, "Eric Holder, come on out!

052213-6cProtesters tear down the barricade to join others at the front door.

052213-6dActivists climb a tall structure outside the main entrance to pitch a protest tent that reads, "Foreclose on banks not people."

052213-6eProtesters stand around the façade of a foreclosed home, which they parked in the barricaded area in front of the Justice Department building.

052213-6fThe front of the Justice Department building quickly transformed into an encampment covered in tents that read, "Foreclose on banks not people." Activists carried couches up the Justice Department steps and parked them directly in front of the doors as people chanted, "Who's house? Our house!"

052213-6gProtesters hold their ground after police warn that people who do not vacate the closed off area will be arrested.

052213-6hA Homeland Security officer carries plastic handcuffs as he prepares to arrest those who refuse to vacate the front of the building.

052213-6iForeclosed homeowners are handcuffed and escorted away by police for peacefully protesting in front of the Justice Department.

052213-6jFormer Wall Street employee turned activist Alexis Goldstein shouts, "Taser the bankers!" after police Tasered a woman they arrested. Photographer Craig O'Connor saw police shoot their Tasers into the crowd indiscriminately.

052213-6kSome protesters try to re-enter restricted area due to outrage over police treatment of people being arrested.

052213-6lPolice warn crowd to stay back as they continue arresting peaceful protesters.

052213-6mAn activist walks along the barricade chanting in support of struggling homeowners in spite of police warnings.

052213-6nA police officer threatens a disobedient protester with a Taser.

052213-6oPolice drag a handcuffed protester away after shooting her with a Taser.

052213-6pPolice escort a protester into a Homeland Security paddy wagon.

052213-6qProtesters engage in another sit-in outside the blocked off Justice Department entrance where protesters were arrested.

052213-6rProtesters move into the street after being pushed off the sidewalk by police.

Copyright, Truthout. May not be reprinted without permission.

Craig O'Connor

Craig Christopher O'Connor Jr. is a photojournalist floating between Philly & NYC. His images and photo-essay's are reflections of the moments he experiences. Trying to share the stories of the life and people he meets on the journey of life all while finding the beauty that is found in our world every day.

Rania Khalek

Rania Khalek is an independent journalist reporting on the underclass and marginalized. In addition to her work for Truthout, she's written for Extra, The Nation, Al Jazeera America, the Electronic Intifada and more. For more of her work, check out her website Dispatches from the Underclass and follow her on Twitter @RaniaKhalek.


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Foreclosure Victims Protesting Wall Street Impunity Outside DOJ Arrested, Tasered

Wednesday, 22 May 2013 11:58 By Rania Khalek and Craig O'Connor, Truthout | Report

Protesters gather at Freedom Plaza.Protesters gather at Freedom Plaza in preparation for a march to the Justice Department.Hundreds of foreclosed homeowners and housing rights activists rallied outside the Justice Department on Monday, May 20, to demand that Attorney General Eric Holder prosecute the Wall Street bankers responsible for the financial collapse and foreclosure crisis.

The protest lasted overnight and into Tuesday morning. Overall, 27 peaceful protesters were violently arrested - 17 on Monday and ten on Tuesday morning - and at least two of them were Tasered by officers from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Video footage taken Tuesday morning shows three police officers subduing and then Tasering Carmen Pittman, an Atlanta homeowner who fought tirelessly to save her grandmother's house from foreclosure in 2011. When asked for their names, those who were arrested identified themselves with the names of Wall Street bankers who, they believe, should be arrested.

The action was organized by the Home Defenders League.

"Five years after Wall Street crashed the economy, not one banker has been prosecuted for the reckless and fraudulent practices that cost millions of Americans their jobs, threw our cities and schools into crisis, and left families and communities ravaged by a foreclosure crisis and epidemic of underwater mortgages," the organizers said in a statement. Their demands include "meaningful relief for homeowners and prosecutions for the criminals at the top."

People came from all around the country to participate.

Curt and Theresa Hamilton traveled from Port Reading, New Jersey, with their two children to join the march. They fell behind on their mortgage payments after Curt lost his construction job in the economic collapse. Curt spent two years unemployed and is currently underemployed, making 75 percent of his former income. Nevertheless, IndyMac forced the Hamiltons into a loan modification with an even higher monthly payment than their original mortgage. The Hamiltons were served with a foreclosure summons in February and are desperately trying to keep their home.

"If I did the same things the banks did, they would charge me for loan sharking or racketeering," Curt told Truthout.

Gisele Mata told Truthout that she has been fighting Bank of America for a year a half. After she and her husband lost their jobs in 2009, they fell behind on their mortgage payments. Today, both Mata and her husband are underemployed, but their daughter contributes financially, making them a three-income household capable of paying the mortgage. But Bank of America argues that the family doesn't make enough money to qualify for a loan modification.

"I'm having to make choices between my mortgage payment and food," Mata said. "We make too much for food stamps, but we don't make enough to stay in our home."

Stories like Mata's are the reason so many people were outraged by Eric Holder's comments in March, when he told the Senate Judiciary Committee that Wall Street banks should not be prosecuted because doing so "will have a negative impact on the national economy, perhaps even the world economy." 

Protesters scolded Holder's remarks as they marched from Freedom Plaza to the main entrance of the Justice Department, which was barricaded by DC police and officers from DHS. After a handful of impassioned speeches, several struggling homeowners jumped the barricade. Officers quickly retreated into the building and shut the door. Before long, the barricade was torn down and hundreds of protesters flooded the exterior around the main entrance where they banged on the door and shouted, "Eric Holder, come on out!"

(All photos by Craig O'Connor)

People directly impacted by the foreclosure crisis march at the front of the demonstration. Rev. Calvin Peterson (bottom right) is the founder of Disabled In Action, an organization that helps advocate for people living in poverty with disabilities, including their right to fair housing. People directly impacted by the foreclosure crisis march at the front of the demonstration. Rev. Calvin Peterson (bottom right) is the founder of Disabled In Action, an organization that helps advocate for people living in poverty with disabilities, including their right to fair housing.

Activists see the US capital in the distance on their march from Freedom Plaza to the Justice Department.Activists see the US capital in the distance on their march from Freedom Plaza to the Justice Department.

Among the diverse crowd of marchers were struggling homeowners, victims of foreclosure and housing rights activists from all around the country.Among the diverse crowd of marchers were struggling homeowners, victims of foreclosure and housing rights activists from all around the country.

Police accompany protesters to clear a path for the march.Police accompany protesters to clear a path for the march.

A woman confronts police from the Department of Homeland Security outside the Justice Department.A woman confronts police from the Department of Homeland Security outside the Justice Department.

Protesters stage a sit-in outside the barricaded and heavily guarded main entrance to the Department of Justice.Protesters stage a sit-in outside the barricaded and heavily guarded main entrance to the Department of Justice.

 052213-6b

A struggling homeowner jumps over the police barricade surrounding the main entrance to the Department of Justice. A struggling homeowner jumps over the police barricade surrounding the main entrance to the Department of Justice.

052213-6aHomeland Security officers watch as protesters climb over the police barricade.

052213-6bDemonstrators approach the front doors of the Justice Department shouting, "Eric Holder, come on out!

052213-6cProtesters tear down the barricade to join others at the front door.

052213-6dActivists climb a tall structure outside the main entrance to pitch a protest tent that reads, "Foreclose on banks not people."

052213-6eProtesters stand around the façade of a foreclosed home, which they parked in the barricaded area in front of the Justice Department building.

052213-6fThe front of the Justice Department building quickly transformed into an encampment covered in tents that read, "Foreclose on banks not people." Activists carried couches up the Justice Department steps and parked them directly in front of the doors as people chanted, "Who's house? Our house!"

052213-6gProtesters hold their ground after police warn that people who do not vacate the closed off area will be arrested.

052213-6hA Homeland Security officer carries plastic handcuffs as he prepares to arrest those who refuse to vacate the front of the building.

052213-6iForeclosed homeowners are handcuffed and escorted away by police for peacefully protesting in front of the Justice Department.

052213-6jFormer Wall Street employee turned activist Alexis Goldstein shouts, "Taser the bankers!" after police Tasered a woman they arrested. Photographer Craig O'Connor saw police shoot their Tasers into the crowd indiscriminately.

052213-6kSome protesters try to re-enter restricted area due to outrage over police treatment of people being arrested.

052213-6lPolice warn crowd to stay back as they continue arresting peaceful protesters.

052213-6mAn activist walks along the barricade chanting in support of struggling homeowners in spite of police warnings.

052213-6nA police officer threatens a disobedient protester with a Taser.

052213-6oPolice drag a handcuffed protester away after shooting her with a Taser.

052213-6pPolice escort a protester into a Homeland Security paddy wagon.

052213-6qProtesters engage in another sit-in outside the blocked off Justice Department entrance where protesters were arrested.

052213-6rProtesters move into the street after being pushed off the sidewalk by police.

Copyright, Truthout. May not be reprinted without permission.

Craig O'Connor

Craig Christopher O'Connor Jr. is a photojournalist floating between Philly & NYC. His images and photo-essay's are reflections of the moments he experiences. Trying to share the stories of the life and people he meets on the journey of life all while finding the beauty that is found in our world every day.

Rania Khalek

Rania Khalek is an independent journalist reporting on the underclass and marginalized. In addition to her work for Truthout, she's written for Extra, The Nation, Al Jazeera America, the Electronic Intifada and more. For more of her work, check out her website Dispatches from the Underclass and follow her on Twitter @RaniaKhalek.


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