Suburban Ohio man resists foreclosure with direct action
(Stony Ridge, OH) For decades a quiet neighborhood in the suburbs of Toledo, Ohio has been home to working class Americans and the place where their children were raised. There is even a local park and playground right around the corner complete with Little League field. Its idyllic serenity has not been spared from the pains of the current economic and housing crisis. On the morning of May 3rd, one working-class anarchist and laid-off auto-worker facing eviction resulting from just one more of the nearly 1.5 million foreclosures in the U.S., decided that now was the time to stand his ground.
by Toledo Foreclosure Defense League
May 5, 2010
Keith Sadler, 53, a 15 year homeowner at the corner of Broadway and Fremont, the heart of quiet Stony Ridge, decided that enough was enough and no one else had stood up to do something about this and that the loss of his own home was the best place to stand. “It's time people should come together as a community to defend what is already theirs. I think we've already been shown that simply asking or hoping for change isn't going to make it happen.” He held a press conference on Sunday night with several supporters in attendance, where he announced that he was not leaving voluntarily and the police would have to enter the house on their own and physically remove him.
There are five people, all from the Toledo area, who are taking the stand with him. There are also supporters who have come form as far away as Florida to show their support and several even camped out in Keith's yard over night, in spite of the rain. The total of six people, ranging in age from 20 to53, have sealed themselves in to Keith's home and have all agreed to stay there as long as it takes and not only brought in food and water with them, but also music and they have planned for a concert on Keith's front porch at noon on May 3rd as well.
He also stated that he had no intentions of doing anything other than simply “not leaving” and would gladly vacate the property voluntarily immediately after the Sheriff publicly announces an indefinite moratorium on foreclosure related evictions in Wood County. “We're not armed. We're not violent. We're not coming out. Not until there is justice for the people.” On May 20th of last year, he was forcibly removed from a Sheriff sale of foreclosed homes in Lucas County, where deputies carried him bodily out as he decried the bailouts and foreclosure crisis as “legalized robbery“ (1). Keith is one of the founding members of the Toledo Foreclosure Defense League (2), and other members and area supporters have stepped in to stand with him.
He has also gained national-level support from Take Back the Land, a movement started in Miami, FL, that has been focusing on exactly the same injustice that Keith and millions of other Americans are going through with direct action. Max Rameau, one of the Take Back the Land organizers came up from Miami to stand with Keith. “In the face of this severe economic crisis, people are rising up. They rail against the bailouts and bonuses, protest the lack of lending, rebel against unfair credit card rate hikes and, most dramatically, fight back against losing their homes.“
The economic crisis and resulting housing crisis, which many are now openly referring to as a depression, has had such a tremendous toll on the American people that many are only barely on the edge of desperation. Many have faced depression, anxiety, and even suicide (4). “I feel like a failure,” Keith said, “This is supposed to be the American dream. I did everything right. I did everything the best I could and it seems like it's supposed to be my fault, but I know it isn't. I know I've been taken advantage of, this many Americans can't possibly be failures so it must be the system that failed us.” The same realization has been made by millions of families forced into the exact same situation. This has hurt not only the homeowners facing eviction, but also friends and neighbors inspiring them to take direct action.
One woman, Connie Smithingell, 20, of nearby Rossford, OH, grew up in these suburbs and played with friends a few doors down when she was younger. Keith was living three doors down the whole time. It was another time. She decided that she would stand with Keith too. “This is my hometown practically. It disgusts me. More or less you get to a point when you wonder when enough is gonna be enough and I can't keep watching these things happen and pretend it will end without doing something myself.”
She is also worried about how the continuing job losses and growing concerns in the oft-touted jobless recovery are going to affect her family in the near future. While discussing her participation in this action with her father, a 30 year auto-worker. He expressed support in her efforts as he is also concerned about his own continuing ability to keep up with rising home payments. “I don't want to see the only home I've ever known go. I want to come back and see the lines drawn on the door frame for my height measurements. “
This is Connie's first major political action in her life. “I think words are cheap and they can only be so effective when they are no longer heard and it comes time to use actions, and my Mom always told me that actions speak louder than words.” She said was willing to face arrest, and felt sure that the Wood County Sheriff, Mark Wasylyshyn, wasn't the kind of Sheriff who would resort to violence. “I like to believe in hope in humanity and it seems to me like he's a decent person who will make the right decision.”
Jessicca Angelov, 20, of Toledo, also decided to take a stand with Keith. Jessicca's grandmother was foreclosed on for defaulted property taxes. The county sold her tax lien at auction along with a much larger block of other tax liens to a private collections agency connected to HSBC Bank which then foreclosed on the home. Jessicca, a member of the Toledo Foreclosure Defense League, helped her grandmother for several months last summer to try and forestall the foreclosure long enough to investigate what was really going on and stop it or cobble together the money to pay off the lien. The County has since stopped selling tax liens to private banks in their own efforts to forestall this crisis, but it was too late for Jessicca's grandmother.
“My own grandmother was working 40 or more hours a week paying on a second mortgage for a house that's not even worth half of what she originally paid for it, fell behind on her property taxes 'cause she had to pick one or the other, and after going through all the steps to try and do this the way that everybody else says to do it she's still facing foreclosure. It just makes me so mad, nobody cares.“ She paused. “It's when I realize nobody cares enough to really do anything about it is when I get sad. I know I have to do something” After the whole process Jessicca and her grandmother went through, and offering to cash out a 401K (at a penalty) the final outcome was: “they wouldn't even take it,“ and still Jessicca's grandmother is facing foreclosure to this day. “The easiest thing to do is: don't leave. In plain terms that's what everyone can understand.“
Supporters have set up a live 24 hour streaming video feed of this ongoing action from inside Keith's home at http://www.ustream.tv/channel/toledo-foreclosure-defense-league and a twitter feed has been set up at www.twitter.com/TFDLOH or you can Text “follow@TFDLOH“ to 40404 in the US or 21212 in Canada. There is also a youtube channel, www.youtube.com/ForeclosureDefenseOH where videos from outside Keith's house will be uploaded to throughout the day.
Toledo City paper
Take Back the Land: May 2010 Month of Action
Study: Foreclosures Causing Major Mental Depression
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