Three Members of Colorado Foreclosure Resistance Arrested In Action At Department of Justice To End Too Big To Jail
Three members of Colorado Foreclosure Resistance Coalition, a coalition of Occupy Denver, Move On, Home Defenders League,Occupy Our Homes, and independent volunteer activists, took part in a protest at the Department of Justice in Washington DC this week. Responding to Attorney General Eric Holder's recent claim that big banks and their executives were "too big to jail", activists, most of whom have been foreclosed on, assembled on the steps of the Department of Justice to show that while the bankers that caused the Great Recession have not gone to jail, our government leaders were willing to arrest the homeowners who, as a result of Wall Street's greed, have suffered the loss of their greatest investments: their homes. Debbie Brady, Sahara Donahue, and Fred Henrich, three members of the Colorado Foreclosure Resistance Coalition, traveled to Washington DC last weekend to prepare for and attend the action, committing before going their willingness to be arrested to bring this injustice to light.
Debbie and Sahara know the injustice of losing their homes , even as Wall Street enjoys a recovery that has brought the Dow Jones to record levels in the jobless recovery. As stated in the Huffington Post article, "A full 50 percent of all capital gains go not to the richest 1 percent of Americans, but to the richest 0.1 percent". So while the CEO's and bankers continue to rake in record bonuses, the homeowners they bet against, like Debbie and Sahara, have failed to see any real compensation for the loss of their homes. As was the case with TARP and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Wall Street continues to enjoy the benefits of socialized corporate risk taking, whereby corporations that fail to make good bets are paid for their losses by the government their CEO's publicly berate, while the tax payers funding these bail outs lose their livelihood, their property, and their rights. Attorney General Eric Holder has defended his department's failure to prosecute big banks, saying they have become so big that charges against them could threaten the national and global economy. This argument has rung hollow due in no small part to Holder's ties to at least one law firm having de-facto immunity to prosecution when financial-fraud prosecutions by the Department of Justice (DOJ) are at 20-year lows. Not alone in his ties to law firms representing big name corporations, Lanny Breuer, the former White House legal counsel for Clinton who headed the DOJ's criminal division under Obama, recently stepped down from his position. This happened after a Front Line interview that exposed his lack of interest in pursuing large financial institutions, and hereturned to his firm of Covington and Burling in a case of inappropriate revolving door appointments happening so fast it makes one's head spin. In a speech before the New York Bar Association, Breuer reportedly made a reference to "losing sleep at night over worrying about what a lawsuit might result in at a large financial institution."
Home owners and home defenders across the country are rightly asking, why is the DOJ worrying so much about our large financial institutions, who have done so incredibly well in our jobless recovery, while literally bringing "justice" at the point of a gun to homeowners who are on the receiving end of Wall Street's unbridled gambling? To bring this issue to the fore where it belongs, Home Defenders League and Occupy Our Homes enlisted members from across the country to take part in the action at the DOJ. The hope was this action would rightfully return public attention to the fact that homeowners are losing their homes, even getting arrested by Homeland Security funded SWAT teams, but no bankers are going to jail. Perhaps it is no surprise that at the DOJ action, it was Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officers that arrested Sahara, Debbie and Fred (pictured in this article being detained at Sahara's eviction). Fred reported hearing Debbie say to the officers before being arrested, "I'm exercising my right to free speech." He heard a DHS officer respond, "You have the right to shut the fuck up!" All three were arrested on Monday, May 20th, and released at approximately 5:00 the following day. They chose to give not their own names, but those of John Stumpf (CEO of Wells Fargo), Lloyd Blanfein (CEO of Golman Sachs), and Richard Davis (CEO of US Bank) when they were arrested, earning themselves a night in jail rather than being released. While the DOJ reportedly wanted to release them on the day of their arrest, the fact that they refused to give their names earned them the night in jail they were aiming for in order to get increased press.
As of Wednesday, 34 activists have been arrested at the DOJ action, 17 of them taking place on the first day. The goal of gaining national press has been well achieved, as this partial list of stories shows:
· The Rachel Maddow Show (coverage starts at 6:56): http://www.nbcnews.com/id/26315908/#51959565
· Crooks and Liars coverage of tasing of peaceful protester: http://crooksandliars.com/susie-madrak/peaceful-foreclosure-protester-tased-
The bravery of everyone taking part in this action cannot be overstated. Debbie Brady, a transgendered woman who served in Vietnam and participated in protests of that war, shared that she was tortured by US Marshalls for, "The crime of being transgendered". She was given only two glasses of water in 30 hours and reports them bending her thumb back, "to my wrist until I screamed at the top of my lungs trying to let everyone in the building hear me, and (they) had fun doing it." I cannot find words to describe my sense of frustration that US Marshalls would treat any citizen like this, but especially a war veteran and hero of Debbie's caliber. Her story deserves an entire article, so I will stop well short of the deserved focus on the further experiences she had.
Our three Colorado heroes are expected home this weekend and are expected to attend the regular Colorado Foreclosure Resistance Coalition (CFRC) meeting at Coffee at the Point, Saturday evening at 5:00. We look forward to hearing their stories and of the ties they have made to the greater national community of activists fighting for foreclosure justice. You can learn more about them now at http://colorado-frc.us/
I would like to thank Jeff Ordower of Home Defenders League who served as our main contact, and the entire crew of Home Defenders League and Occupy Our Homes for providing airfare and accommodation to many of the homeowners who attended the DOJ event, including our CFRC members. As a result of the hard work and commitment of these groups and the brave individuals willing to take arrest, the DOJ is firmly in the sights of Americans who demand justice for our citizens, and prosecution of those who broke our laws and crashed our economy, no matter how big their companies are.
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