Mt. Gilead couple protests winter eviction

By Caleb T. Maupin

Cleveland FIST

Greg Owen and Keesha Rutherford, after being unable to pay a series of illegal fees demanded by their landlord, discovered they were scheduled for eviction from the land they rent in order to have a place for their mobile home.

In desperation they contacted the Bail Out the People Movement. Owen, who frequently reads Workers World online, was familiar with the phrase, “It is better to die on your feet than live on your knees.”

With the help of BOPM activists in Cleveland, a protest was organized in their hometown of Mt. Gilead on Dec. 26. Members of BOPM; Workers World Party; Fight Imperialism, Stand Together; the Lucasville Freedom Coalition; and others came in support of this struggle against eviction.

Keesha Rutherford held a sign reading, “Eviction in the winter, shame, shame, shame.” She would be leaving her partner, Greg Owen, to live in Indiana. Rutherford had nowhere else to go after she was forced from her home during record cold temperatures and harsh winter winds. Owen stated that he had no idea where he would turn for housing and would possibly be living in a tent in a nearby wooded area.

Owen informed the BOPM activists that a white supremacist organization has been active in the area recently. Twice a vehicle drove past the demonstration bearing a large confederate flag.

Though Mt. Gilead has a reputation of being a town where right-wing attitudes prevail, the amount of support for the protest was enormous. Workers driving by honked in support and gave thumbs up signs to the protestors. Workers from a local Pizza Hut donated a large pepperoni pizza to the protest after congratulating the protestors and shaking their hands for “standing up for what you believe in.”

Word of the protest spread across Mt. Gilead, and many said they felt relieved to see that some were standing up against the dismal conditions that thousands in the area face amid the crises of unemployment, foreclosures and evictions.

Owen expressed interest in forming a BOPM chapter in Mt. Gilead, as many felt the same sense of outrage against bank bailouts, while several of the local factories have closed and many people have been evicted from their homes.

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