Wall Street protesters to occupy foreclosed homes
As encampment crackdowns continue nationwide, movement joins activist group to refurbish houses for homeless familes
As police crackdowns on Occupy sites continue, protesters enter ’new frontier.‘ Photograph: Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images
Thousands of Occupy protesters across the US will occupy foreclosed homes today, in what organisers are describing as a „new frontier“ for the movement.
In New York, Occupy Wall Street has teamed up with local activist groups to secretly occupy an empty home, and plan to hand the property over to a homeless family. Similar action is scheduled in more than 20 other cities.
Over the last month many occupations have been evicted from their encampments, as cities cracked down on demonstrations that had lasted for several weeks.
In New York occupiers plan to march to the closely-guarded location of their pre-selected foreclosed home, which organisers told the Guardian had been occupied overnight.
After meeting with a family that was evicted from their own home, protesters will journey through a Brooklyn neighbourhood which they say is „on the front lines of the economic crisis“.
„This action is part of a national kick-off for a new frontier for the occupy movement: the liberation of vacant bank-owned homes for those in need, and the defense of families under threat of foreclosure and eviction,“ Occupy Wall Street said in a statement.
Occupy Wall Street said the march will end with „a housewarming block party“ for the family, while protesters begin work on renovating the foreclosed property.
„The NYC foreclosure tour and home re-occupation is part of a big national day of action on December 6 that will focus on the foreclosure crisis and protest fraudulent lending practices, corrupt securitisation, and illegal evictions by banks.“
Organizing for Occupation, or o4o, a New York-based activist group which enters abandoned properties and makes them available for homeless familes, is one of a number of organisations which have joined Occupy Wall Street in the action. The others include Picture the Homeless and New York City Communities for Change.
Activists from o4o have already occupied the Brooklyn house which protesters will march to, and were responsible for matching a family to the property.
Co-founded by prominent radical Episcopal priest Frank Morales – a proponent of squatting since the late 1970s – o4o normally moves destitute families into homes „covertly“, with the intention of establishing a long-term residences for them.
A sub-group known simply as „crack“ enters and secures vacant properties, before „a lot of people with skills“ take over and renovate, Morales said.
Set up in response to the housing crisis, o4o has infiltrated roughly a dozen buildings in the city since June.
Ed Needham, who acts as a media liaison for Occupy Wall Street, said the Occupy Our Homes demonstration represented a new phase for the Occupy movement.
„Across the coutry we’re expecting thousands,“ he added. „We expect over 1,000 protesters to take part in events in New York tomorrow, and hundreds to be at the house.“
Needham said he was unsure „how long the family will be able to stay“ at the property, given that the action has been widely publicised, however activists are keen for the follow-up to the 6 December march and occupation to be just as important as the event itself, with one o4o activist telling the Guardian he hoped the demonstration would kick off a „mass occupation“ of foreclosed homes and vacant properties