Video: Occupy Denver, Colorado Progressive Coalition protest foreclosures, interrupt auction

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Earlier today, the joint foreclosure committee featuring members of Occupy Denver and the Colorado Progressive Coalition successfully stopped a local foreclosure auction at the Wellington Webb Building -- for fifteen minutes. And while the group's success cannot be judged an overwhelming success, it is the first step in its plan to impact the city's foreclosure practices. Their hopeful final step: To stop them from happening altogether.

Today marks the second event involving the committee formed in mid-December, but its first direct action. In preparation for visiting the auction, the fifty people involved came to a group consensus that none of the fifteen who protested today would risk being arrested. Because they intended for their first mission to be based in research for the future, they hoped to set a first impression of nonviolence.

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"So we didn't shut it down. But now that we know what it looks like and feels like inside, we're going to plan to stop them entirely in the future," says Jenny Weyel, a community organizer for the Colorado Progressive Coalition. "It was really invigorating, and we managed to ruffle some feathers inside."

Beginning at 10 a.m., the small task force stopped by the Webb Municipal Building with the full knowledge that its members would shortly be asked to leave it. Because the public trustee's office operates under a strict code of conduct -- attendees must remain seated and refrain from communication with neighbors -- the foreclosure group was rapidly and systematically asked to evacuate the premises.

Individually, volunteers stood up to interrupt the auction by sharing their personal stories with the issue or singing a song. From there, the auction's monitor tapped each interrupter on the shoulder until the entire group had left after roughly fifteen minutes. It's a small first step, says Weyel, but a step nonetheless.

Victoria Garcia, a nonprofit worker who has been fighting foreclosure for three years, spoke out about her own economic battle before reinforcing the group's belief in large-scale changes to the financial system.

"A lot of people think you can't be in a home if you can't make the payments. But the argument we're really making is that the economy in its current state is not really representative of actual home values," Garcia says. "Especially with changing interest rates, it's not nearly as simple as all that. There are a lot of other economic issues that need to be taken into account."

Garcia's active struggle with the foreclosure status of her home near Colfax and Sheridan began when she lost her job three years ago. Since then, she says she has been underemployed, and joining the CPC and Occupy Denver volunteers in the joint foreclosure working group has encouraged her legal battle. Garcia estimates that at least half of the task force's fifty members are currently facing foreclosure.

In the coming weeks, the group has set its sights on following the example of those U.S. occupations that have physically e-occupied foreclosed properties. At the moment, the group is organized into four subcommittees devoted to different aspects of the spectrum: outreach, direct action, education and legal work.

"There is already a common awareness in the sense that we know about it on the national issue and read about it in the paper all the time. But we want to translate the numbers into real-life people and anecdote and actions," Garcia says. "I want to take some homes back."

Here's a video of the group's protest this morning.

More from our Occupy Denver archive: "Thunderdome expands to radio, goes mobile."

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Kathy Kienle
Kathy Kienle

I lost my my home 2 yrs. ago after my husband was in an accident and suffered severe head trauma. I tried working with the bank and was supposed to qualify for the government re-financing. What a horrible joke! the bank lied "lost paperwork it went on and on they NEVER intended on refinancing the home! Did I buy a home that was more then I could afford? I sweat blood and tears working two and three jobs and made house payments for over 15 yrs.!  I am so tired of the the ignorance and justification of people who are involved in  purchasing selling off or just standing by while it happens to their neighbors and thinking that they somehow "deserved it" The impact that this had on my entire family was devastating! It is two years since I sold my life's work for pennys at a yard sale and left MY Home the next day with two kids and a Husband who was not recovered from his injuries, terrified with enough money thank God for two months rent on a 1 bedroom Apt. We are climbing out, but I will never again be able to own a home of my own, all of those years of my life taken. My children are forever changed by what has happened to us.Its to late for me and my family but its not to late to help other family's that are having there homes stolen yes stolen by  these predators. We are your friends family's and neighbors or maybe just that nice lady or fellow you pass by once in while who always has a smile or a kind thing to say. And yes it could happen to you..    

Denverbldr8
Denverbldr8

I buy houses at this auction.  This auction represents a handful of investors and home buyers buying distressed properties with zero affiliation to the banks or the government.  The foreclosure process for each house being auctioned off started years prior and was driven by the banks and teams of lawyers.  Out of 70 houses auctioned off a week, maybe 5-7 are sold to people in the room occupied this morning, the rest go back to the banks.  If you notice, there's not one bank employee or official in the room.  Focus your movement on the problem. not on the people fighting over the scraps from the post foreclosure process.

Kathy Kienle
Kathy Kienle

After making house payments for 15yrs. I never thought of my HOME as a Scrap!

Guest
Guest

we should really be going after the people who hold guns to these homeowners heads while they purchase a house way more expensive than they could ever have afforded.

wait...

Robert Chase
Robert Chase

Problems with reading comprehension?  You don't give a damn that over half the foreclosures in California were illegal?!?  The same thing is happening to people across Colorado.  What kind of fucking idiot makes light of people being illegally evicted from their homes?

foreclosureworkinggroup
foreclosureworkinggroup

Before the disruption started,  Sindee Wagner, Chief Deputy Public Trustee defended the auctoning off peoples homes, saying that buyers "do a valuable service," and that "Some of you [buyers/bankers] are a little snakey, but I don't care. I don't care what happens outside my world." Then came Tenaj Tannenbaum, a deputy public trustee, who conducts the auction. She began by complaining about the Denver Post's description of her in a column by Chuck Murphy last week. When the disruption started by members of the Foreclosure Working Group, including folks who have been foreclosed upon, Tannebaum ridiculed them, telling them to "go back to their parent's basement". Disgusting. If anyone doubts the systemtic fraud in this foreclosure process, I commend to you a recent audit (see the New York Times article on Feb. 16/today) in California, which look at 400 foreclosures. The result? "About 84 percent of the files contained what appear to be clear violations of law, it said, and fully two-thirds had at least four violations or irregularities." That's right, you shine the light on this process with a real investigation and you'd find the corruption and theft. People aren't going to stand for this any longer and AG Suthers is clearly on the side of the banks!       

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