National Network fights to bail out people, not banks

Call for Oct. 24-27 actions

NYC FIST

A national campaign against foreclosures, evictions and budget cuts is picking up steam. Under the umbrella of the Ad Hoc National Network to Stop Foreclosures and Evictions, community activists, trade unionists, students and youth, and anti-war activists have come together to prevent workers from being thrown from their homes, as well as to build a people’s movement demanding money for people’s needs.

In cities like Detroit and Boston, affiliate groups of the Network have successfully blockaded eviction proceedings. In Los Angeles and Detroit, groups are pushing their legislators to enact a moratorium on home foreclosures and evictions, using laws enacted during the Great Depression to justify their claim.

Most recently, the Network is focused on regional days of action from Oct. 24 through 27. The Network’s Web site (www.stopforeclosuresandevictions.org) describes the sense of urgency: “The stock markets are crashing, the world economy is headed into a deep recession or even depression, and the U.S. government and its top bankers, along with their counterparts around the world, are giving what’s going to amount to trillions of dollars to bail out the richest 1 percent of the people while doing nothing to rescue ordinary working and poor people! We must stand up and say no to this injustice! Now is the time to act.”

In addition to mobilizing for actions in the streets, the Web site hosts an online petition to President George W. Bush, presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain, members of Congress, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke, and members of the media demanding a bailout of the people, not of Wall Street.

Other initiators of the Oct. 24-27 actions include the Moratorium Now! Coalition To Stop Foreclosures and Evictions in Michigan; Labor/Community Coalition to Stop Foreclosures and Evictions (Los Angeles); Service Employees International Union, Local 721; Latino Caucus, SEIU Local 721; Gloria Saucedo, Hermandad Mexicana Nacional; BAYAN USA; New York May 1 Coalition for Immigrant and Workers Rights; Women’s Fightback Network; Frantz Mendes, president, United Steelworkers Local 8751 (Boston School Bus Drivers Union); Action Center for Justice (North Carolina); the youth group FIST (Fight Imperialism, Stand Together); and the Troops Out Now Coalition.

Organizers speak out

WW asked organizers in several cities about their plans for Oct. 24 through 27.

Philadelphia FIST organizer Tyneisha Bowens said: “In Philadelphia we are first holding a community planning meeting. We want community members and community-based organizations to work with us to create a plan for how Philly will participate in the nationally coordinated Oct. 24-27 demos. It’s clear from conversations on the streets, on radio programs, and at social events around the city that the people of Philadelphia are grappling with questions and concerns about the economy.” See http://www.iacenter.org/philly-iac for more information.

Kris Hamel of the Moratorium NOW! Coalition to Stop Foreclosures and Evictions in Michigan stated: “On Oct. 27 we’ll be demonstrating at City Hall to demand that the interim mayor apply to the governor for a declaration of a state of emergency in Detroit and to use her emergency powers to impose a two-year moratorium on foreclosures. We’re also demanding the mayor ask the federal government for bailout money to help rebuild our city.

“Just a tiny fraction of what the banks are receiving could be put to good use teaching people job skills that could refurbish all the abandoned, vandalized and stripped homes throughout Detroit. Our city has 18 percent abandoned homes—that’s second only to New Orleans. We’ve been living with our own Hurricane Katrina here for years, and the neglect from the federal government is just as bad as what’s been visited on the displaced people from the Gulf.” See http://www.moratorium-mi.org.

Dante Strobino, a member of Raleigh FIST and an organizer with UE Local 150—the N.C. public service workers’ union—described both the hardships and the resistance to the economic crisis in the South: “The economic crisis has had a particularly bad effect on public sector workers, who are facing drastic budget cuts. North Carolina’s Gov. Easley is ordering agencies to cut their budgets by 3 percent. Virginia’s Gov. Kaine is projecting a 4 percent budget cut in 2009 that will reduce funding to higher education institutions by 5 to 7 percent, delay the salary increase for public workers, execute about 570 layoffs, and other cuts.

“Workers and students will be mobilizing for demonstrations at Bank of America headquarters in Charlotte to express their rage at the government supporting the bank’s profits while the people’s suffering deepens,” he concluded. The mass rally and march will take place on Oct. 25 at 1 p.m. Visit charlotteaction.blogspot.com.

In New York, workers, students and youth will converge on Wall Street on Oct. 24. Chris Silvera, secretary-treasurer of Teamsters Local 808, told WW: “It is important that workers turn out on Oct. 24 to let our government know that it is the workers of this nation that create the wealth that Wall Street squanders away. The only way to rescue the nation is to rescue the working class. It is important that workers display their power and make their demand for redress during this critical time in our lives. We must protect our jobs, wages, health benefits and pensions. We must mobilize and fight to protect our share of the wealth of the nation.”

Brenda Stokely of the Million Worker March Committee and the N.Y. Solidarity Coalition for Katrina/Rita Survivors, said: “This economic crisis has exposed so many things, including the fact that there were those who were benefiting from an economic, political and social system that allowed others to be held in a state of destitution without homes, without jobs, without the option of sending their children to college. Meanwhile, a stratum of our society was allowed to receive extended credit, purchase homes, send their children to colleges, save monies in annuity accounts and have pension plans. Now these two worlds are crashing down to the ground together, but they can both raise their hands and pull back the curtain to see who is truly running the show.

“Who has had the unfettered opportunity to make billions of dollars, to trick us into unbearable credit debt and untenable mortgages? Who has kept our children either in enormous debt, due to thousands of dollars in college loans, or sent to war or prison? It is the same folks who decided they could make more money by destroying our entire industrial base and allowing our infrastructures to deteriorate to such dangerous levels that the potential of disasters displacing millions across the country is very real.

“We will not accept a rejection of our demands for single-payer health care; a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures; jobs with a living wage; free education from cradle to grave; an end to all wars and the immediate return of our troops; a national civic works project to rebuild our infrastructures and absolutely no bailout for the rich criminals.”

E-mail: leilani@fistyouth.org


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