On Tuesday morning, homeowners facing foreclosure and housing rights activists from across the country -- including the Home Defender's League and Occupy Our Homes (an off-shoot of Occupy Wall Street) -- rallied outside the U.S. Department of Justice to demand Attorney General Holder hold the Wall Street Banks that ravaged America’s economy accountable. Dozens of struggling homeowners are prepared to risk arrest in non-violent civil disobedience or set up an ongoing occupation outside the Department of Justice until demands for Wall Street accountability and relief for their communities are addressed.
The action at the DOJ began on Monday, and although they were supported by over 500 allies, the DOJ decided they would rather jail these everyday Americans than step up to help resolve the ongoing foreclosure crisis. Some of those arrested were even tasered -- 17 arrests in all, with two being tasered by police.
According to D.C. police, 17 people were arrested. Ann C. Wilcox, an attorney who represents protesters, said several were tased during the scuffle. A D.C. police spokeswoman said D.C. police were not involved in the tasing. Federal law enforcement officials on the scene declined comment.
Police also closed Constitution Avenue for much of the afternoon, leading to traffic backups downtown.
As of 4:45 pm, about 50 protesters were standing in the street or sitting on the sidewalk, and police were preparing for more arrests. Officers equipped with crowd dispersal agents guarded the entrance to the Justice Department. A police helicopter circled overhead.
Tuesday at 6 a.m. police moved in to arrest anyone blocking the main doors of the DOJ. There were 10 more foreclosure victims arrested, and one was tased though she wasn't resisting and was being peaceful, according to Nathan Henderson-James of the Home Defender's League. No bankers have been arrested during the foreclosure crisis.
The group set up an encampment overnight to protest the home foreclosure crisis, and police have ordered the tents to be taken down. Police removed the facade of a home the protestors set up in front of the doors of the Justice Department before the beginning of the business day, according to NBC News.
People have tried to take public space at the DOJ, but police are now trying to sweep everyone away, or at least take down all the flags and signs and keep people off the sidewalk. Out of sight, out of mind?
The breaking point came for these foreclosure victims who are willing to face arrest if necessary when after agreeing to various settlements since 2008 requiring a total of $5.7 billion in payments to homeowners, “banks have paid less than half” that amount to date, according to the Washington Post:
Critics point to the 2011 agreement the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) and the Fed struck with more than a dozen mortgage servicers as a prime example of the dysfunction. […]
After 12 months, no homeowners had received a dime. But the eight consultants managing the process on behalf of the banks were paid nearly $2 billion. […]
Problems are also emerging in the largest mortgage settlement — a $25 billion deal between state and federal authorities and five banks accused of using forged paperwork to quickly foreclose on struggling homeowners.
The banks agreed to pay $1.5 billion directly to borrowers. No checks have been sent, though the first are likely to go out later this month.
Even if the banks had promptly complied, the $5.7 billion in total direct payments to homeowners tallied by the Post pales in comparison to the actual harm caused by “robo-signing” and other forms of mortgage and foreclosure fraud.
Five years after the greed and recklessness of Wall Street criminals crashed the economy, Eric Holder’s Department of Justice is finally making some arrests. But it’s not Wall Street bankers sitting in jail. No, it’s 27 struggling homeowners and foreclosure victims who went to D.C. to demand the end of Too Big to Jail.
If you'd like to show your support for these brave homeowners, call the White House Comment Line at (202) 456-1111...maybe ask why the DOJ is jailing homeowners instead of bankers.