Saturday, April 2, 2011

Update on the Lennon Family eviction

Take Back the Land is reporting potentially good news for Catherine Lennon and her family.  As you read about the organizing in Rochester, New York, remember that you can get involved in foreclosure prevention right here in Springfield, through the No One Leaves Campaign.  By the way, there'll be a civil disobedience training April 20, Time and place still TBA, for those who want to be involved in or supportive of this work.

In a major victory for those fighting back against the foreclosure crisis, mortgage and foreclosure giant Fannie Mae began talks with Catherine Lennon about the Rochester, NY home from which she was forcibly evicted just one day before. The negotiations, initiated by US congresswoman Louise Slaughter (NY-28), took place after Take Back the Land- Rochester (TBL- Rochester) organized a 2 week long eviction defense of the Lennon home, which ended in dramatic fashion with a SWAT team followed by a phalanx of police and multiple arrests. The goal of the talks is to get Lennon and her family back into their home.

Catherine Lennon lived at 9 Ravenwood Ave. in Rochester for seven years. Economic hard times forced some of her children and grandchildren to move into the home and the family to miss some mortgage payments. Bank of America began foreclosure proceedings shortly after Catherine's husband died of cancer. Fannie Mae, recipient of a $90 billion taxpayer bailout, took over the home and proceeded to evict the extended family of 11.

While the eviction was set for Monday, March 14, 2011, the community had other plans. TBL- Rochester organized a community eviction defense, with neighbors and supporters physically blockading the home for two weeks, preventing the family from being forced out. All that ended on March 28th as Rochester police brought the SWAT team and an estimated 25 police cars, to forcibly execute the eviction. 7 eviction defenders were arrested, including a 70 year old neighbor still in her pajamas. However, the eviction defense did not end the fight, it only started the second phase.

After a flurry of supporter calls, emails and viral videos of intense media scrutany, the very next day, US congresswoman Louise Slaughter (NY-28) directly intervened, convening a conference call between Catherine and high level Fannie Mae officials, who are now re-reviewing her case. In addition, TBL- Rochester was contacted directly by the offices of Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, both of whom committed to step up efforts to assist the family.

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