By Kris Hamel
Published Jul 21, 2010 2:17 PM
Forty-five activists attended an organizing meeting July 17 at Central United Methodist Church sponsored by the Moratorium NOW! Coalition to Stop Foreclosures, Evictions and Utility Shutoffs. They discussed and projected plans for a number of struggle initiatives in the upcoming weeks.
People’s attorney Vanessa Fluker outlined the story of 79-year-old Marvin Morris and his ailing spouse, Louise, who face foreclosure and eviction from their home of 38 years after running out of options in the court system.
Morris sat beside Fluker as she told how the Michigan Supreme Court refused to hear the Morrises’ case and how justice cannot be won in the courts but must be won in the streets. “Things aren’t getting any better with the foreclosure epidemic,” said Fluker. “In fact they’re getting worse. Lenders just won’t work with homeowners.
“Mr. Morris has never missed an escrow payment of $487 a month — in fact he has already paid more than what his home is worth! — but Barclays Bank and HomEq just want it all. They want them out. We have to make it a top priority to keep Mr. and Mrs. Morris in their home. Because this isn’t just about the Morrises — it’s about everyone that comes after them and everyone else right now who is up against these predatory banks.”
Morris said there are seven houses on his block alone that are vacant due to foreclosure. The house next door to his is empty and vandalized and is slated to be torn down.
The coalition will hold a press conference and demonstration on July 22 at 5 p.m. outside the Morris home at 9592 Plainview in Detroit. Community members will pack the courtroom of Judge Kathleen MacDonald in Wayne County Circuit Court on July 23 at 9 a.m. as she hears testimony from Barclays and HomEq on why the Morrises should be tossed out of their home.
A blitz campaign of e-mails, phone calls and faxes is being set up to put community and media pressure on Barclays and HomEq and expose their illegal foreclosure and eviction of the elderly Morrises from their home. Details will be forthcoming at www.moratorium-mi.org.
Banks behind other ills
Jerry Goldberg, a coalition leader and anti-foreclosure attorney, said that “almost all home loans now are backed by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac or HUD [Department of Housing and Urban Development], in other words, the federal government.” Goldberg said over $400 billion has been given to government-backed agencies to pay banks for the full amount of mortgages along with added fees for every foreclosure carried out.
“The banks don’t just own and control homes and communities, but schools, cities, everything,” said Michigan Citizen reporter Diane Bukowski, who talked about the role of the banks and lending institutions in the budget crises facing the Detroit Public Schools and the city of Detroit.
Bukowski’s research revealed that DPS this year owes $439.8 million to the Bank of New York Mellon. Next year that debt is expected to reach $523.8 million or a staggering 90.7 percent of DPS’s per-pupil state aid for 2011.
Coalition members voiced a resounding “Yes!” when Bukowski called for strengthening the campaign to demand a moratorium on the DPS and the city’s debt service and interest payments to the banks. She said Detroit and other cities around the country facing similar budget crises should follow the example of Cuba and other Latin American countries that have refused to be held hostage by the imperialist banks.
Abayomi Azikiwe, a leader of the Michigan Emergency Committee Against War and Injustice, reported on the rash of racist incidents in suburban Eastpointe, where African-American families have received death threat letters and a house burned recently in a possibly related incident. A solidarity action with the African-American community in Eastpointe is being planned by activists in conjunction with MECAWI.
Raphael Thurin of the Detroit Socialist Party gave a report on unemployment, the cutoff of extended unemployment benefits, and why workers must demand and fight for full employment and a public works program similar to that of the Works Progress Administration during the Great Depression.
Organizers will be doing further outreach on these various struggles and are planning a contingent in the Aug. 28 Detroit march for jobs, justice and peace recently announced by the United Auto Workers and the Rainbow PUSH Coalition.
A dynamic discussion took place after the reports.
The coalition meets every Monday at 7 p.m. at 5920 Second Ave., Detroit. To get involved go to www.moratorium-mi.org, call 313-887-4344 or attend a meeting.
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