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If last Friday’s People’s Bailout turned out to be anti-climatic, the singing protestors–made up of activists from groups such as Occupied Wall Street, Organizing For Occupation, Judson Memorial Church, Union Theological Seminary, and Occupied Faith–got their fair share of action yesterday at the Bronx Supreme Court, as 24 people–about half the group–were arrested for interrupting the foreclosure auction.
Despite the arrests, the action was deemed a success by the group though, as only one of four properties up for sale were sold.
The day’s action started at a little past noon with the group meeting at Joyce Kilmer Park near Yankee Stadium. There, the diverse group–ranging from young men to old women–warmed up their vocal cords with singing exercises, followed by a skit mocking the foreclosure proceedings.
At 1:45, they trekked to the courtroom for the scheduled 2pm auction. Just like the sales at Queens and Brooklyn court, there’s now a cell phone check-in line prior to entering the auction room.
“I think they learned their lesson after some of our singing videos have gone viral,” said Adam Roth, one of the organizers of the action and a regular of the People’s Bailout.
The extensive security check led to a delay in court procedures–this, alone, was perhaps a victory: investors waiting to buy properties were visibly annoyed–with the sale starting a full 45 minutes behind schedule.
Just like the Queen’s blockade from last month, their plan was to split into groups, and interrupt the court procedure multiple times.
But when the first group’s singing couldn’t quite deter the sale–the auctioneer and investors actually continued the bidding process as the first group sung–other protestors had to join in ahead of schedule.
The court guards reacted swiftly, a two dozen singers were taken to the back room.
Despite the disturbance and arrest, Roth said the protestors and the guards were mostly amicable.
“Even though we were held in the backroom [of the courthouse] for hours, we told the guards that we were not trying to disrespect them, but to support the homeowners and to speak up against the system,” he said. “And they were very professional to us for the most part.”
All but one protestors were released later that afternoon–with the single detainee, Madeline Nelson, held overnight for reasons not yet disclosed.
According to Roth, not only did the day’s action stop the sale, it won over at least one guard.
“As [the guard] walked me out of the courthouse,” Roth recalled. “He told me, ‘What you guys are doing is important, you guys have the hearts of American people in mind, but do it right, don’t fuck it up’.”