Here Comes Trouble: Stories from My Life

"Outstanding…Moore Triumphs! Publishers Weekly

Mike & Friends Blog

Van Jones and Marianne Manilov

Van Jones is a globally recognized, award-winning pioneer in human rights and the clean-energy economy. Marianne Manilov is the co-Founder and Co-Director of the Engage Network

April 1st, 2011 11:01 PM

VIDEO: 'This Is Not America': SWAT Team Evicts Grandmother, Community Fights Back

Day after day, the media and government ignore an ongoing national tragedy: a tsunami of foreclosures is still sweeping millions of Americans out of their homes. As many as three million American families this year will hear a terrifying knock on the door: a law enforcement officer will tell them to get out, because a bank won't work out a fair deal and allow them to stay.

But one remarkable grandmother this month refused to go quietly.

And her brave example -- including her willingness to stand up, along with her neighbors, to a SWAT team -- finally got elected officials to intervene.

A modern day Rosa Parks, her courage may well spark a national movement.

Grandmother and longtime Rochester resident Catherine Lennon was evicted from her home on March 28.

It was a moving scene captured on the video below.

But Ms. Lennon should never have been booted out. Her problem was simple enough to solve: her husband died in January of 2008, leaving her with no will and her home ownership in legal limbo. She acknowledges missing some payments. But then, because her name was not on the house's official mortgage paperwork, she says her bank refused her checks and returned them to her. She says she has the ability to make her payments.

But believe it or not: Fannie and Freddie wouldn't accept her money.

Fannie Mae, which now owns Lennon's home, received $90 billion in bailout money. According to Max Rameau of Take Back the Land, "In order for banks to get their mortgage insurance money, they must evict the families. Instead of a system or laws that try to keep families in their homes, banks have a perverse incentive to evict them. We should be rewarding banks that keep people in their homes, not the ones that kick people out."

Instead, according to Ms. Lennon, the bank called in the police. A SWAT team came to evict her and her 11 children and grandchildren. Neighbors stood with Ms. Lennon throughout the ordeal.

"This is not America," said one shocked neighbor.

Take Back The Land Rochester, a local group providing eviction defense, attempted to stop the eviction. Seven people were arrested, including a 70-year-old neighbor, still in her pajamas. Take Back the Land Rochester is a part of an impressive national network of volunteers who are standing on the frontlines and helping those facing eviction and foreclosure.

After Lennon's eviction, Rochester residents increased their calls and letters to their elected representatives and the media.

Congresswoman Louise Slaughter intervened and got Lennon on the phone with Fannie and Freddie to begin negotiations on the mortgage. Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York also called Take Back the Land Rochester to offer their support.

Lennon's story is both a light of hope and a warning. In the next week or two, Lennon may get her home back. We hope to see a video of the celebration as Ms. Lennon and her family are allowed back into their family home.

But tonight Lennon and her family are in a homeless shelter. And today across the United States, more than 8,000 people will lose their home to foreclosure. They are grandmothers, husbands, sisters and aunts. They are the fabric of our community: the teachers, the janitors -- the same workers who are under attack in Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana, and elsewhere.

The time has come in the United States where we all must be brave like the volunteers of Take Back the Land, where we all must be eviction defenders. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were originally established to help US citizens fulfill the dream of owning our homes. In a time when communities are hurting, we must stand together and demand policies that will save American families from losing their homes. We must stand together to protect and rebuild the American dream.

Bank of America today said that Ms. Lennon had fallen behind on her payments.

In response to the Bank of America statement, Ryan Acuff (an organizer with Take Back the Land- Rochester, the community group supporting Ms. Lennon) released the following statement:

After Catherine Lennon's husband died of brain and lung cancer in 2008, the Lennon family, understandably, experienced the same financial harship many people are facing today. As a result, Catherine did miss some mortgage payments to Countrywide/Bank of America, just as we have stated in our press releases and public statements. However, Catherine not only met with the Housing Council, the local HUD approved mortgage counselors, but attempted to engage with Bank of America. In fact, Catherine sent a payment to the bank, but the bank returned the check and refused to negotiate with her because the mortgage was in the name of her deceased husband, who did not leave a will. While Catherine was, indeed, delinquent, the fact remains that Bank of America refused her attempts to pay and efforts to negotiate modifications to her mortgage for the reasons stated above.

You must log in to comment.

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Log in | Register

George W. Bush Debuts New Paintings Of Dogs, Friends, Ghost Of Iraqi Child That Follows Him... President Bush has a new hobby -- painting! --...

Apr 17th
7:28 PM
Read More

Big new story from David Sirota and Pando on top Christie adviser and appearance of corruption at New Jersey's pension fund: REVEALED: Gov....

Apr 17th
12:41 PM
Read More

FBI Uncovers Al-Qaeda Plot To Just Sit Back And Enjoy Collapse Of United States WASHINGTON—The FBI announced today that it has uncovered a...

Apr 15th
3:28 PM
Read More

Revealed: Rahm Emanuel's top donor bought stock in Marriott just before it was awarded huge contract As schools are closed and pensions cut,...

Apr 9th
2:00 PM
Read More

I'll be at First Time Fest today in New York City at the screening of my first film, Roger & Me. Loews Village 7 at 12:30 pm. Come see it on the big...

Apr 5th
9:48 AM
Read More

Revealed: Rahm Emanuel cuts public pensions, diverts money to benefit campaign donors If you've read the financial news out of Chicago the last...

Apr 4th
2:19 PM
Read More

Please take a moment today to think of Casey Austin Sheehan, son of Cindy and Patrick, who was murdered by U.S. foreign policy in Sadr City, Baghdad ten years...

Apr 4th
2:00 PM
Read More

ICYMI - I've joined this "thunderclap" to support the Connecticut legislators who voted yes on last year's Act Concerning Gun Violence...

Apr 3rd
7:38 PM
Read More

I've joined this "thunderclap" to support the Connecticut legislators who voted yes on last year's Act Concerning Gun Violence Prevention...

Apr 2nd
8:27 PM
Read More

I am opposed to the death penalty, but to every rule there is usually an exception, and in this case I hope the criminals at General Motors will be arrested...

Apr 1st
3:55 PM
Read More

How Long Some in the US Will Survive Under New Health Law Donna Smith Those who must access care to live and can afford it are not...

Mar 31st
10:13 PM
Read More

Last night, The Good Wife on the East Coast started 40 minutes late due to the overrun of the NCAA basketball game. If you had your DVR set for the show, you...

Mar 24th
5:41 PM
Read More

Watching films today, looking for the ones I'm going to pick for my film festival this summer. I (and a whole bunch of others!) have this thing we put on...

Mar 23rd
4:48 PM
Read More

When the U.S. Health Care System Keeps Killing, Who Cares Enough to Fight? Donna Smith We have largely forgotten that people are at...

Mar 21st
5:56 PM
Read More

Tell the White House not to give up on Dr. Vivek Murthy's nomination as Surgeon General despite the ferocious opposition from the NRA: Don't give...

Mar 21st
5:38 PM
Read More

This criminal would never see a jail cell, nor would his cronies. In fact, they'd later be rewarded with re-election: Presidential Address on War with...

Mar 19th
9:40 PM
Read More

The crime of the century -- our invasion & slaughter in Iraq -- started 11 years ago tonite in this 7pm (ET) hour, March 19th, 2003: CNN Coverage of...

Mar 19th
9:08 PM
Read More

Washington’s Back-to-the-Future Military Policies in Africa Nick Turse Nick Turse is an award-winning journalist, historian,...

Mar 17th
4:59 PM
Read More

"I think democracy is the most revolutionary thing in the world." -- Tony Benn, 1925-2014 Tony Benn in 'Sicko'

Mar 14th
10:07 AM
Read More

RIP Tony Benn, one of the UK's greatest leaders: Tony Benn, veteran Labour politician, dies aged 88 Former cabinet minister died at...

Mar 14th
9:53 AM
Read More

Please read this important story from K. Ford K.: Am I the Face of the New American Middle Class? I began to feel I had slipped so low...

Mar 13th
2:24 PM
Read More

Yesterday Dianne Feinstein revealed that the CIA has been spying on the Senate Intelligence Committee. This is all about the report the committee has produced...

Mar 12th
6:48 PM
Read More

Health Care for All Colorado has brought Mercy Killers, a show written and performed by Michael Milligan about our murderous for-profit healthcare system, to...

Mar 10th
1:08 PM
Read More

Health Care Dramas that Sting and Why We Have to Watch Donna Smith The realities Milligan has written into the show cut deep into...

Mar 10th
1:02 PM
Read More

Did you know the Lehrer Newshour on PBS has been produced for 20 years by a company owned by conservative cable billionaire John Malone? Me neither. After...

Mar 7th
8:39 PM
Read More

Mr. Obama, if int’l law is so damn crucial . . . | The Russian intervention deserves criticism. But let’s be clear. The...

Mar 6th
1:21 PM
Read More

Enron billionaire John Arnold thinks everyone should believe him when he says we've got to cut pensions because he's so incredibly rich: John...

Mar 5th
4:20 PM
Read More

More in David Sirota's continuing series on the billionaire takeover of PBS: More PBS conflict woes as activists move to eject David Koch from board of...

Mar 3rd
12:35 PM
Read More

Ukraine: One ‘Regime Change’ Too Many? Ray McGovern Is “regime change” in Ukraine the bridge too far for the neoconservative...

Mar 2nd
9:25 PM
Read More

Subscribe to Mike's Blog RSS

Click here to suggest an article

Mike's Blog

See More Blogs

Vew the archives

View older articles