Eviction resistance in Boston

Although the intention of the postings on this blog will be focused on Chicago experiences, it is essential to learn from the experiences of others elsewhere dealing with the same problems. In this article from Boston, for instance, we find that chaining a few folks to a building on eviction day does not itself prevent eviction or seriously hamper their effort to evict.

However, it would of course be unfair to assume this is the entire strategy. In fact, CL/VU can at least claim success in contributing to the momentum of preventing one eviction last April as they had threatened at the beginning of the year to physically block evictions whenever possible. The trick, of course, seems to be in encouraging enough eviction resistance so that the one hour hold up at a single site accumulates into an unmanageable waste of police resources across the city.

The results appear to be a matter of circumstances -- on the one hand, the resident in eviction that went ahead was apparently the owner of the condo and was indebted directly to the bank. In the case of the halted eviction, it was a matter of the scummy landlord giving the renters the claim of being good tenants. It's exciting the CL/VU went ahead and took on both, although the legal claims of one were more dubious. This points to an attempt to deconstruct the logic of the social order that only "good" residents deserve to stay in their homes.

About 50 people, activists from the Jamaica Plain based organization City Life/Vida Urbana, and their supporters, gathered in front of 76 Perrin Street in Roxbury today, to try and block police from evicting one of the building's residents, Paula Taylor, 43.

Six people chained themselves to the front and back entrances of the building. After a standoff that lasted more than an hour, Boston police from the area B-2 precinct and officers with Boston Special Operations, finally cut the protester's chains and arrested four of the six activists. Shortly thereafter, workers with a moving and storage company began removing Ms. Taylor's belongings and placing them in a truck. She told reporters she was not sure where she would go.

Attorneys with the local chapter of the National Lawyers Guild observed the eviction and arrests. Students and staff from Harvard Law School also were in attendance and several spoke with reporters.

Ms. Taylor's condo was foreclosed upon earlier this year. The mortgage is owned by Bank of America. She said she offered to pay rent to the bank and move out once a qualified buyer for her condo could be found, but she and spokespersons for City Life/Vida Urbana said the bank rejected that offer. The fight for tenants' rights is far from over. City Life and other organizations are stepping up to stop the banks from taking people's homes.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Is this a form that could generalize itself? Does it resemble the housing struggles of the past, or prefigure a new mode of intervention?

I feel pessimistic right now, that it represents only a half-step and a dead-end, as activists try yet again to encounter the proletariat. This is not to imply that I possess other, better truths...