Survivors Village, a community group of former St. Bernard public housing residents and their allies, joined forces on Dec. 6, 2011 with recently evicted Occupy NOLA protestors to successfully disrupt a Sheriff’s sale of foreclosed properties. Delaying the sale for two hours, the protestors chanted:
“This auction is illegal and immoral. It is a way to steal homes, redistribute wealth and prevent the right to return. The sale of blighted property is the city's attempt to remove poor homeowners who have already suffered tremendously from economic and natural disaster. Blight has become an excuse to gentrify. Charging poor homeowners outrageous fees in order to steal their homes is an underhanded way to keep people displaced. Stop capitalizing off of crisis! This process is corrupt! You are stealing homes! Stop now!”
The sale was scheduled to begin at noon. At approximately 1:45 pm, after several potential buyers had already left, the police arrived and threatened the nonviolent protestors with arrest. Before declaring that the remainder of their protest would be silent, the protestors announced their intention to physically defend any properties sold: “We will be in court. We will be in the streets. We will be in the houses--defending them, boarding them up, and occupying them.”
Protestors specifically identified two properties and successfully urged buyers not to purchase them. The Fight Back Center, a long-time community center in the St. Bernard neighborhood in New Orleans’ 7th ward was slated to be auctioned at the sale despite city personnel having acknowledged that there were numerous legal problems with the process. “This is community space and we will fight to keep it that way,” protestors declared.
The Fight Back Center is currently being redeveloped and rebuilt by Survivors Village, which began in 2006 as a tent city of public housing residents who were locked out of their homes after Hurricane Katrina.
The protest was also carried out in solidarity with a call from Occupy Wall Street, who declared December 6 a day of action on the foreclosure crisis.