From the Nov.-Dec. 2010 issue of News & Letters:
Chicago–In Illinois, a five-day notice is supposed to be given before you are evicted. (It doesn’t always happen.) On Oct. 14, we gave Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart his own five-day notice demanding a moratorium on all economically based evictions. This is the latest in a series of actions taken by the Chicago Anti-Eviction Campaign in response to the shocking rate of evictions of renters in public housing and private apartments and of homeowners put out by banks. For example, on the day of the protest the Sheriff’s website listed 32 scheduled evictions, and on some days the number is over 50. Nationwide, 102,000 homes were repossessed by banks in September.
While about two dozen people showed up in Daley Plaza for the action, guards only allowed three into the Sheriff’s office. Both English and Spanish language TV stations came, as did the local Labor Beat show, but all the media were soon told to leave the office.
We targeted the Sheriff because his staff carries out evictions. In 2008 he declared a moratorium on evictions of renters in foreclosed buildings, which he allowed to lapse after a few months. Now he is using the popularity of that moratorium to run for Chicago mayor. Even though the rate of foreclosures has only gone up, he has not committed to a new, full moratorium. Instead his staff at the meeting hid behind legalities, at the very time that Attorneys General of all 50 states have launched an investigation into foreclosure and several banks have announced their own moratoriums precisely because of the snowballing reports of illegal practices by lenders and their contractors.
Those of us who did not go into the office held signs, including our five-foot high five-day notice. Many passersby read the sign, and some took pictures of it or stopped to talk. One couple told us their landlord had tried to evict them but only gave the five-day notice to the Sheriff’s office. Many of us feel that the system, capitalism, is the heart of the problem.
Five days later, on Oct. 19, the Sheriff declared a moratorium, but only for evictions due to foreclosures pursued by the three banks that have admitted filing false affidavits. But he left an opening for himself to restart evictions once these banks file new affidavits.
The situation is urgent! People are being thrown out of their homes! We won’t let politicians stall us on this.