Did you know that during the Greater Depression, communists and socialists organized people all over the country to stop foreclosures and evictions? Why aren't more of us doing it now?
After the Battle of the Bronx, as it was later called, the landlords at Bronx Park East asked a blue ribbon committee of Bronx Jewish leaders to arbitrate the dispute. But the strike leaders rejected arbitration. "When times were good," strike leader Max Kaimowitz declared "the landlords didn't offer to share their profits with us. The landlords made enough money off us when we had it. Now that we haven't got it, the landlords must be satisfied with less."
The landlords retaliated by forming rent strike committees. They used their resources to push through quick evictions. Many of the renter strikes were broken. Mass evictions took place at 665 Allerton Avenue and 1890 Unionport Road.
The landlords continued their offensive and the judges rarely considered the neediness of the families. By December 1932 is appeared that the Bronx rent strikes had largely been crushed.
But then something happened.
in December of 1932 and January of 1933, the Unemployed Councils began a new wave of strikes that rapidly assumed far greater proportions than the last one. Beginning in Crotona Park East, the strikes spread into Brownsville, Williamsburg, Boro Park, the Lower East Side, and much of the East Bronx. In February of 1933, a panicked Real Estate News writer warned that "there are more than 200 buildings in the Borough of the Bronx in which rent strikes are in progress, and a considerably greater number in which such disturbances are brewing or in contemplation."
Yes, when you push people to the edge, sooner or later, they're going to fight back:
In these excerpts from a recorded interview, Anna Taffler, a Communist activist and a Russian Jewish immigrant, described how her own experience of facing eviction pushed her into organizing the unemployed.
Mary Gale helped organize the poorest people in Long Island City.
Meanwhile, a rival Seattle group, Unemployed Citizens’ League, formed by socialists Hulet Wells and Carl Branin, provided practical aid like food and wood for heating to the unemployed.
The unemployed organizations shared common demands: They called for sufficient government relief to provide an unemployed family with a survival budget and for the creation of public employment on a large scale. They also organized to combat the evictions and foreclosures of thousands of unemployed renters and homeowners.
On March 6, 1930. International Unemployment Day, 5,000 unemployed gathered at the Pennsylvania Railroad Station. Their march toward downtown was broken up after half a block by dozens of club-wielding police.