In the waning months of 2011 after the police systematically cleared out Occupy Wall Street encampments across the US and Canada, it was obvious to many activists that the foreclosure crisis and the economic system that engendered it should be the prime target of our attention.
Several Occupy Seattle members met in the early months of 2012 to examine existing anti-foreclosure models around the country. At the end of April 2012, members of the Boston-based community group City Life / Vida Urbana, with the assistance of Vashon Island’s Backbone Campaign, gave a two-day presentation in Tacoma to a group of about 100 activists. This conference was so well received that several attendees agreed to bring this model to Seattle, launching SAFE on May 1, 2012.
Within days, Bethany UCC gave SAFE a building on its campus to conduct our operations. A major breakthrough, this gift gave us a central clearing house to meet with foreclosed families and to map out strategies and tactics.
After weeks of knocking on doors we began building our base one foreclosed home at a time. As we canvassed we noticed two patterns: (1) everyone hates the banks, and (2) all the families in foreclosure seemed to be having eerily similar encounters with their banks. No matter which bank was involved, they all treated the foreclosed families with disdain; they all lost the paperwork multiple times; and they never returned calls as promised. It’s as if the banks were all reading from the same script – written by Franz Kafka.
In response, SAFE organized Solidarity Block Parties, where neighbors could show their support to the family in distress. We carried signs at foreclosure auctions saying, “You Buy This House, You Buy a Long-term Protest,” and “Imagine Us At Your Place of Business!” We installed an Eviction Memorial of 1000 monuments running for a half mile along Beacon Ave. in Seattle. We delivered letters to bankers demanding they negotiate with SAFE homeowners on our terms. We held neighborhood barbecues on the lawn of the SAFE House at Bethany. And we brought in local media to make it clear that the banks must stop preying on our community.
The banks do to us whatever they please, whenever they please. After all, it’s their private property – their prerogative. If you want to someday own the shelter you live in, you must go through the banks to do so. But why must this be so? Shouldn’t housing be a human right? We at SAFE believe it should.
As more neighbors join our ranks we can stand between the banks and the homeowners, and when the sheriff comes along to evict, we will literally stand between him and any SAFE family.
Our goal is to build a movement of the people to change from a society run by Wall Street and the corporations, aided and abetted by our subservient government, in an inexhaustible pursuit of capital accumulation (a destructive campaign to sustain the unsustainable), to one run by the people democratically in a righteous (and sane) quest for social and economic equality, freedom, and justice. We’re moving forward, and with the support of the people, we will succeed.
- Dec. 28, Fri., 9:30 AM, Auction disruption for Jeff Bartel and his family. We meet at the corner of 134th ave SE & SE 37th St. in Bellevue. The auction will be run by NW Trustee Services AKA Routh Crabtree Olsen. Call us at 206-203-2125 if you’d like to learn more.
- Dec. 28, Fri., 4:30 PM: 999 Third Ave. (SW corner of Third and Marion St.). SAFE members will deliver Jeremy’s first unrent strike check to Wells Fargo. In 2008, Jeremy bought a local iron works company he had been with for ten years, but shortly after acquiring the company the economy collapsed, and he lost everything. After long stretches of unemployment, he’s back at work and can afford his home, but on Nov. 16, Wells bought it back at auction. We want Wells to sell this home back to Jeremy.
Other Upcoming & Ongoing Events:
- 7:00 – 8:30 PM, Tuesdays: Meeting at Bethany UCC on Jan. 1 Come to our first meeting of the year. All are welcome. Happy Holidays!
- 2:00 – 4:30 PM, Saturdays: Door-to-Door canvassing. We are making this time a regular weekly event, rain or shine. The next event will be on Jan. 5.
This Past Week:
- More families lost their homes. The banks certainly didn’t take much of a break over the holidays did they? Well then, neither will we.
- Linda Mackey, another courageous woman, has come forward and is contemplating to fight for her right to stay in her home. Her home was supposedly sold at auction. That’s alright, she’s not moving and is willing to pay rent to live in her home. Our solution is that the banks negotiate. The banks solution, after having ruined the economy with graft, gambling and greed, is to liquidate our communities. Who’s right and who will win? Stay tuned for further updates.