Police in Washington made numerous arrests today in connection with the ongoing mortgage foreclosure crisis, in which millions of homeowners lost billions of dollars due to the fraudulent actions of bank executives.
But the arrests were not of the criminals who caused the crisis; the people led away in handcuffs today were the victims of the crime.
They were among the more than 100 people from across the country at a Justice Department demonstration organized by the Home Defenders League. They marched from Freedom Plaza in downtown Washington to the Department of Justice, expressing in their chants their frustration with the government, specifically Attorney General Eric Holder, for not holding the banks accountable for robbing homeowners of their wealth.
The participants had slogans printed on propped-up tents and chanted such lines as, “Who do we want in jail!? THE BANKS! When do we want it? NOW!”
Some of the participants stated in interviews that they were willing to be arrested if it meant having their voices heard; others simply told their story.
“I am here because I want the bankers jailed, the ones that caused this housing crisis and foreclosure crisis and are putting people out in the street,” said Deborah Noel, of Springfield, Mass. “Right now it is time for them to pay, we are not going to stop, we are going to continue to work together and rally together until something is done.”
“This is not how we are supposed to live, being pushed out of our homes, being depressed and upset every day,” she continued. We’re supposed to be able to live comfortably.”
Noel’s story is just one of many that shine light on the problem this country is having with how the banks handled the lives of ordinary people.
While most Americans lost something in the Great Recession, it was clear that many of the participants at today’s “Bring Justice to Justice” rally, like Sahara Donahue, of Idaho Springs, Colorado, had lost a great deal.
““I was foreclosed on last year in my home of 24 years, and was evicted by a Tri-County SWAT team, so I left my home that I had fought for two years to stay in through the court system at the point of an AR-15,” Donohue said. “I had to be here today, and I am honored to be here with Home Defenders League and Occupy Our Homes trying to help change things.”
Cammy Depew of Gonzales, La., struggled as a single mother to jump through many hoops just to make her house payments. In an interview, she outlined the complexity of the process she went through to try to save her home, as her case was shuffled from one bank servicer to another. Finally, she said, “when I started to work on a modification with them, they put me in foreclosure. I was not even notified of the sheriff’s sale.”
“I am here because it took everything for me to buy this house, which I bought for stability for my kids. I had a large amount of equity in the home; my plan was to get them through school, buy a piece of land then give each of my daughters a parcel, so they would be in a stable situation and would never be in the situation that I was in, moving from home to home.”
As of 4:30 p.m. Monday there were at least 17 homeowners arrested, with more arrests expected. These are everyday people who believe that if big banks led by billionaires and millionaires can be bailed out, why can’t average Americans? Perhaps as these arrests and what motivated them gets discussed, our government will be shamed into addressing the plight of millions of homeowners who are underwater on their mortgages, and reserve the jail cells for the real criminals in this saga.
Richard Long contributed to this post.