Commentary by Bryce Phillips (a SAFE Member)
SAFE’s roots are in the Occupy movement which emerged in 2011. The roots of SAFE can also be found in struggles of workers and the unemployed in the 1930s, where eviction blockades and move back-ins were common. There was a moratorium on bank evictions in 25 states and struggles for civil rights, racial and gender equality, free speech, protecting the environment, and peace that continue to this day. It can be found in the movement to confront the World Trade Organization, and the increasing unchecked power of corporations and financial institutions over our lives. SAFE is directly inspired and informed by the struggle of City Life/Vida Urbana in Boston for the rights of tenants and “bank tenants”— those of us who pay our hard earned money to the parasitic banks to continue to live in our homes.
The Occupy movement exploded worldwide in a matter of days, it was a great spectacle that challenged the oppressive status quo in the streets and in the realm of ideas. The scope was enormous and the location, goals, and direction rather vague. There was an exciting but unrealistic sense that we could change the world overnight by sheer outpouring of emotion. It was a spark that burned bright but burned out quick. SAFE emerged from the embers as an organization dedicated to the long, arduous task of waging the battle on a daily basis. Confronting the biggest threat to our communities—especially on Beacon Hill in Seattle where SAFE began—displacement.
The vision is to come together and build community in our communities amongst a great diversity of race, ethnicity, age, religion, and to organize a spirited defense of that community from the forces that seek to destroy it. Jane Jin Mair came to Beacon Hill from China where she fought for human rights and marched in Tiananmen Square. As the only English-speaker in her family, she manages the finances—that of her sister and mother. Bank of America has exploited and taken advantage of Jane’s family at every turn, harassing them with phone calls, losing their paperwork, and trying to take away the home they have worked so hard for. Those “bloodsuckers” as Jane aptly describes them, have no right! BofA happens to have a branch located only a block away from the home of Jane’s sister right on North Beacon Hill. This is exactly the kind of fight SAFE was made for!
On a daily basis, working people in the Beacon Hill community come to that Bank of America to deposit their paychecks and probably to have confusing and infuriating conversations about their accounts and mortgages as well—in a word to get ripped off. Even most of the bank employees know the fraud and duplicity of their employer, they see it firsthand. Beacon Hill has been waiting for a fighter like Jane and an organization like SAFE to lead the way. This is where real community organizing takes place. Are things going on in legislatures and courts important, yes, it is at the community level however where the big changes take place. Across America and in Seattle in particular, there is a crisis of displacement from the city. Thousands of homes sit empty, more than even the growing amount of people sleeping on the streets.
Rents jump as much as 40 percent in a single year while the City of Seattle tears down a livable housing project that served those in need since the 1930’s to make way for yet another playground of wealthy developers. Will Seattle be a city of walkable, livable, diverse communities we find on Beacon Hill, or will it become a soulless corporate office park and upscale shopping mall? We will be putting Bank of America on notice! If they wish to continue doing business in this community they need to stop destroying it! Join us; together we can create a livable community one neighborhood at a time!
Wednesday Sept. 25th 2:00 PM – Seattle City Council Housing, Human Services, Health, and Culture Committee Meeting – Chair Nick Licata and all the committee members need to hear our battles, demands and solutions. Show up at 1:45 to sign up for public testimony; each person gets 2 minutes. This week’s agenda, click here. Council Chambers, Seattle City Hall, Floor 2, 600 Fourth Avenue, Seattle, WA 98104. Meeting is held every 2nd and 4th Wednesday of the month.
Thursday Sept. 26th 4:00 PM – Chase Picket for Alton and Demand Delivery in West Seattle at the Junction. Contact Sonia Hoglander for more information Sonia@HomEvo.com
Friday Sept. 27th 4:00 PM – Beacon Hill Picket at BofA for Jane – meet at Red Apple on Beacon Hill at 4PM. We will be picketing BofA for 45 minutes. Contact Bryce Phillips for more information. email@example.com
SAVE the Date, Oct 26th – Halloween Party – This is to celebrate our successes. We are chasing out the ghosts and goblins of the banking industry. Let us shine the magical light of truth on the shadow economy and take back the power for the people. They lock their doors, they flail about trying to quiet our voices, they are indignant that we fight back AND WE are RIGHT! Those moments, those looks on their faces are better than any costume we could dream up. They are losing and we are the champions of the world! More details to come! Sheri bottom-lining; contact her to help. firstname.lastname@example.org
THIS PAST WEEK
Lobbying Training Friday Sept. 6th – Nancy Amidei gave training on how to Lobby, this was amazingly informative and on the heels of Strategic Planning will help us formulate a comprehensive plan of attack. Eminent Domain, Eviction Moratorium, Principle Reduction, Debt Forgiveness, whatever, you gotta know the game to win the game.
September 11th – Seattle City Council Housing, Human Services, Health, and Culture Committee Meeting – Washington CAN (Reset Seattle) and SAFE filled the chambers to give testimony regarding foreclosure and eviction travesties in the Seattle area. Cornell University law school professor Robert Hockett delivered the astounding report about the state of housing in Seattle, “Post-Bubble Foreclosure-Prevention and -Mitigation Options in Seattle” pdf
September 13th – Demand Delivery for Alton who is suing Chase for non-good faith negotiation during mediation. Document & Demand Delivery for Jane fighting for fairness with BofA. We delivered with great gusto at both locations, Beacon Hill was especially busy this Friday afternoon, many took notice; even tellers gave us the fist up approval. Chase at Othello Station is a good place for a future Banner Drop for rush hour commuters. Follow up pickets are scheduled for the 26th (Alton) and 27th (Jane).
COME TO OUR WEEKLY MEETING
Tuesdays, 7:00 – 8:30 PM: Weekly SAFE Meeting: Bethany UCC, 6230 Beacon Ave S (corner of Graham St). All are welcome! This is where we bring new participants and have free attorneys available from time to time. Find out what SAFE is about and what we are working on. Our objective is to end bank evictions through mutual aid and direct action with homeowners/bank tenants that are fighting the banks to stay in their homes. This is the first step to getting involved!
Angeline Thomas from Seattle University Law School will with us on the 8th to answer questions.
QUESTIONS & COMMENTS
You can reach us at info@SAFEinSeattle.org or 206-203-2125. Please visit our web site: www.SAFEinSeattle.org .