Five members of SAFE (Standing Against Foreclosure & Eviction) were arrested Tuesday at a downtown Seattle branch of Wells Fargo as they protested the imminent eviction of Jeremy Griffin from his South Park home. While sitting in the bank’s lobby, the five chanted “We Shall Not Be Moved” and read a letter from Mr. Griffin demanding the bank negotiate with him.
Meanwhile some 40 other supporters protested in front of Wells Fargo’s headquarters on Third and Madison then marched to the bank branch where the five were protesting. Police were called and the five were arrested.
Mr. Griffin, an ironworker, became unemployed when the economy crashed in 2008. Soon he fell behind in his mortgage payments. In 2012 he resumed working, and tried to negotiate with Wells Fargo, but they refused and sold his home of eight years in Dec. 2012.
“I’ve offered Wells Fargo six months of payments in advance,” said Mr. Griffin, “but they’d rather evict me and blight my neighborhood with another empty home. Why won’t they take my money?”
Since Mr. Griffin lost his final court hearing on June 25, the Sheriff could post his eviction notice any day.
“At my eviction hearing the only reason the bank’s attorney gave for why they won’t negotiate with me is they ‘have no legal obligation to do so.’ That may be a legally sufficient reason,” Mr. Griffin said, “but it’s morally wrong. Basically, they refuse to negotiate with me and accept my money without having the decency to give me a reasonable explanation as to why.”
According to Stephen Price, one of the five SAFE members arrested on Tuesday, “Since 2008 the banks have evicted millions of Americans and thousands of Seattle families. Every month over 250 Seattle families see their homes sold at auction. When a family is willing and able to pay to stay in their home, they banks shouldn’t just throw them onto the street. But when you’re a multi-billion dollar Wall Street bank like Wells Fargo, profits are more important than people.”
SAFE (Standing Against Foreclosure and Eviction) is a grassroots, non-profit organization of volunteers and homeowners dedicated to building a mass movement to stop bank evictions, achieve principal reductions, and put people before profit.
“During Occupy Seattle, a lot of liberals, including some at this paper, complained that the group didn’t have concrete enough objectives. They said the group became too chaotic and drifted away from the raising the most resonant issues of the day—financial malpractice by the banks and economic inequality.
Well, here’s what they were looking for. SAFE is an outgrowth of Occupy Seattle. Its focus is on working class people being victimized by banks. And its methods fall firmly within the tradition of non-violent civil disobedience.”