#Not1MoreEviction: The Grande Finale of OOHA’s Housing Justice Academy
The attendees of Occupy Our Homes Atlanta’s first ever Housing Justice Academy wasted no time using their newly acquired nonviolent action skills. On the final day of our three-day training, Monday, Oct. 28, 2013, participants from around the Southeast converged on Republican Senator Johnny Isakson’s office on Cumberland Boulevard in Atlanta to demand relief for struggling homeowners. Observing a #Not1MoreEviction Day of Action, Occupy Our Homes Atlanta (OOHA) and housing justice activists across the country called for Congress to “dump” the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s acting director Ed DeMarco in favor of N.C. House Rep. Mel Watt.
Our demand for Sen. Isakson and his fellow Republican congresspeople is to refrain from blocking Watt’s confirmation because we believe he will benefit struggling homeowners more than DeMarco’s inadequate leadership. Furthermore, we call for a moratorium on all Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac foreclosures until Watt is confirmed.
Our crowd of approximately 30 people, many of them homeowners currently facing foreclosure, arrived in the lobby of the sterile corporate building that houses Isakson’s office around 12:30pm. Fancy security guards in suits immediately denied us access to the senator’s office and claimed that we could only go to Isakson’s ninth floor office in pairs of two. They also threatened us with criminal trespassing charges — since when can security guards arrest?
Unscathed, our coalition comprised of people of every shade and stripe imaginable called the guards’ bluff by marching ahead to the elevators and were soon en route to Senator Isakson. Once we arrived at his office, we were blocked at the door by a lady from his front desk and refused a meeting with Isakson and his staff. However, his office’s resistance was met by our resistance as the homeowners-in-struggle among our ranks began to speak their piece, recalling their personal foreclosure horror stories with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. While they spoke, we unveiled a vibrant banner we made during the academy that read “NO MORE EVICTIONS.” To end our friendly but firm trip to Isakson’s office, we all echoed the homeowners’ sentiments by reciting our demand as a group, as well as our signature “Home Defender” chant.
In a gross misuse of Cobb County’s tax dollars, a herd of police greeted us in the lobby as we made our exit from the building. As unarmed, nonviolent individuals (unlike our cop visitors), we agreed to move our protest to the sidewalk in front of the building. As we continued to chant our demand and display our colorful banner, allies honked in solidarity as they drove by and many of us shared our stories with press who were on the scene.
After partaking in lovingly crafted bag lunches in the building’s parking garage, we headed back to the site of our training, the CWA Union Hall. Over the weekend, the Housing Justice Academy students proved themselves to be true social change agents and each graduate received a certificate of completion and shared a few words about their experience. During the ceremony, everyone in the room could sense a transformation in all of us in the course of only three days. We realized that we are all more the same than we are different, united in the exact same struggles. The South should beware of the many trained foot soldiers who are about to build a powerful housing justice movement that stands the test of time. WE ARE HOME DEFENDERS — hear us roar!