As readers may know, we’ve reported from time to time on efforts by community members to block specific foreclosure auctions, since this is a sign of how citizens place much less stock in the credibility of banks and legal procedures than they once did.
So we took interest in a report in the New York Times on an effort to block a foreclosure auction in Brooklyn that resulted in 9 arrests. The article made much of the fact that the protestors sang to disrupt the auction. Key extracts:
It was just after 3 p.m. Thursday in a second-floor courtroom in Brooklyn when an auctioneer announced to a crowd of about 60 people that she would begin selling foreclosed properties…..
The interruption in business as usual at the State Supreme Court building on Adams Street was staged by Organizing for Occupation, a coalition of housing advocacy groups that recently helped halt the eviction of an 82-year-old woman in Bedford-Stuyvesant in a foreclosure proceeding that the woman and her supporters said resulted unjustly from a subprime loan…
Just before 3:30, court officers announced that anyone who did not clear the courtroom would be arrested. Most of the crowd got up and departed, but about 10 singers remained. A moment later, they emerged from the courtroom into a corridor, cuffed, escorted by court officers and still singing…
Inside, spectators and would-be bidders sat on wooden benches in a hallway as they waited for the auction to resume. Among them was Michael Nicholas, 50, from Ridgewood, Queens, who said that he had been attending foreclosure auctions in Brooklyn for a decade but had never before witnessed a choir take over the courtroom.
“I was expecting the auction to begin,” he said. “Then instead I got the chorus line.”
So the protest is made to seem entertaining, harmless (if annoying to people who wanted to conduct business), and quixotic. After all, the protestors were arrested and nothing got done, right?
If you read the more colorfully written account of the same incident at the Village Voice, you’ll see the Times made some crucial omissions. The first is that the foreclosure was under dispute and may have been proceeding improperly:
Morales said that, though negotiations are reportedly on-going between Ward, the man who bought her house, the bank who sold it to him, and the state Attorney General’s office, Ms. Ward is still facing eviction. Last Tuesday, the day before a planned meeting of these parties, the current “alleged” landlord served Ms. Ward with another eviction notice, breaking the lock on her front door to get in and post it. Morales called for a renewed effort towards Ms. Ward’s “eviction patrol.”
The Voice also reports that the protest did succeed in preventing the foreclosure on Thursday. It ins’t clear whether it will be rescheduled to tomorrow, delayed further, or whether the court will decide to seek another resolution. But the effort in the courtroom did achieve a measure of success, while the Times account would lead you to believe otherwise. It’s sort of sad to see that the need to watch out for the interests of the Masters of the Universe has reached the New York Times metro desk.