Protesters Show Up to Court, Only to Realize They Have Nothing to Protest--A Carefully Designed Fakeout By the Court?
A group of nearly 30 activists, from groups such as Occupied Wall Street, Organizing For Occupation, Judson Memorial Church, Union Theological Seminary, Occupied Faith, and even Raging Grannies, showed up to the Queen's Supreme Court today for what was supposed to be the 4th People's Bailout--that singing protest we've written about here and here.
The court has, once again, beefed up their security in preparation for protestors. When we got to the courtroom, there were over ten guards patrolling the outside (each carrying about a half dozen plastic handcuffs), and everyone entering the auction room had to leave all electronics behind--perhaps to prevent nosy journalists like me from shooting videos of the protests and arrest. We even had to go through metal detector scan.
All that security hassle made getting into the auction room a chore, with long lines and delays.
Still, most of the protestors and investors--ready to bid on four properties facing foreclosure--made it to the room in time for the 11am start. And then, things got interesting.
"We've just received words that the banks have pulled the properties due to bankruptcy motions," yelled out one of the lead guards. "The sale has been canceled."
Everyone in the room shot each other a look of confusion. But before anyone could react, the lead guard added: "Okay, everybody out of the room".
In all, we were inside the auction room for less than 3 minutes.
Jay Kim, of the legal firm Common Law and one of the organizers of these People's Bailouts, said that while it is not unusual for properties to be pulled out of the auction due to bankruptcy filings by the owners, it was odd that all property was pulled off and on such short notice.
"When a homeowner files for bankruptcy, they do it at a federal court, and once that has been filed, that puts a hold on all foreclosures," Kim said. "But I'm not sure about every property all filing for bankruptcy at the same time."
With nothing to protests against for the day, some members turned to conspiracy theories: "Do you think this was a fakeout to waste our time?"
"Perhaps they knew we were coming and pulled the sale?"
Runnin' Scared tried to speak to the court guards but none would answer.
"Well, we can consider today's action a success since no homes were sold," said Nathaniel Mahlberg, Community Minister of Judson Memorial Church, who was one of the lead organizers of today's events.
Undeterred, the group of activists gathered outside the courtroom and sang a soulful rendition Listen Auctioneer anyway, all under the watchful eye of a group of guards.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Village Voice's biggest stories.