As part of the build up to Sunday's NATO summit protest, Occupy Chicago marched to Daley Plaza in Chicago today with a focus on foreclosures. Speakers demanded that Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart implement a one-year moratorium on evicting homeowners who face foreclosure.
The specific demand was partly answered by the sheriff’s office, with Dart Deputy Chief of Staff Dana Wright showing up at the rally. Wright pledged that Dart would meet with two Occupy delegates this afternoon and suggested that a later public meeting could take place.
Wright also said that Dart was working on a “Renter’s Rights” ordinance to protect tenants whose landlords enter foreclosure.
“The fact [is] that he’s meeting, he’s listening; he cares about your concerns,” Wright said.
Wright even shared the stage with protesters such as Jorge Ortiz, of Communities United Against Foreclosure and Eviction, who declared, “We will stop all evictions! Stop deportations! No more displacements in Cook County!”
Here is video of Wright and Ortiz:
Ralliers renacted the eviction of a Cook County family, casting a representative of Sheriff Dart being used as a tool of greedy banks. “Hurry this up,” said Simon Swartzman, of Communities United, portraying the bank representative to a hapless-looking sheriff’s representative. “There are a hundred people I have to make homeless today.”
Here is video of the rally:
Dart’s record on foreclosures is complex. The sheriff made national headlines in October 2008 with a moratorium on foreclosure-related evictions. The moratorium ended in January 2010 only to be brought back in October 2010 after the robo-signing scandal emerged.
The moratorium ended again a month later because Dart said he had orders to proceed on evictions from Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez.
Meanwhile, Cook County is awash in foreclosures – the latest numbers show that filings are down, but foreclosure court is so backlogged that the average case takes a year to process.
Ortiz acknowledged after the rally that Dart is somewhat receptive to protester’s viewpoint. “The real source of the problem are the banks,” Ortiz contends. Still, if Dart does not issue a moratorium, Ortiz vows a “people’s moratorium where we occupy people’s homes.”
As for efforts to engage banks, some protesters moved along to the Citibank branch across from Daley Plaza, where they placed their stage props inside the bank’s lobby.
No arrests were made in the Citibank demonstration, but Occupy spokesman Micah Philbrook pointed out that police did “arrest the furniture,” taking it into police custody.
The foreclosure actions follow Occupy’s plan this week to draw attention to a different major issue each day – yesterday, for example, was immigrant deportations and tomorrow protesters plan to rally around environmental sustainability.