Eviction Blockade: When We Fight, We Win!

By Matthew Garelick

On the morning of Monday, June 7, nearly 50 protesters (many from Vida Urbana/City Life and the Bank Tenant Association) arrived on King St. in Dorchester [Boston] to block the eviction of Ursula Humes from her home of 17 years. Ms. Humes’ dispute with Wells Fargo Bank began when she missed two mortgage payments and Wells Fargo began foreclosure proceedings.

Despite her raising the money to make the overdue mortgage payments as well as the current ones, the bank (a recipient of $25 billion of taxpayer bailout money) still chose to continue with the eviction. Ms. Humes is now prepared to buy her house back from the bank with the help of Boston Community Capital, but there has been a dispute over the value of the home. Wells Fargo, which has no offices in Massachusetts and little concern about its effect on local communities, refused to allow an inspection to determine the fair market value of the property.

With the constables scheduled to show up around 9 a.m., the protesters arrived early, distributing signs to picketers and passing out fliers to passersby. At the same time, approximately 15 police arrived to lurk across the street and watch the picket line. A long line of protesters of all ages marched, chanted and sang on the sidewalk in front of 18 King St., while several more prepared to be arrested on the steps of the house rather than allow the constable entry.

Lawyers from Vida Urbana convinced the constable to wait until a Wells Fargo official in California could be reached. It took more than an hour of phone calls, including waiting for a banker three time zones away to get to work, but shortly after 10 a.m., the announcement was made, to much cheering: The bank had seen reason, and Ms. Humes was safe, for now. It still remains to be seen whether a fair price will be agreed upon, but Ms. Humes now has a chance to keep her home.

Eviction blockades have a remarkable record of success in shaming banks and keeping people in their homes. Vida Urbana and the Bank Tenant Association have been at the heart of this fight since the 1970s. Eviction blockades only work because people are willing to stand up and fight back, so you need to do your part! Check out www.clvu.org for information about upcoming blockades, and get out onto the picket lines!

When we fight, we win!

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