Community Prays to Halt Eviction of Marcus Bookstore

pray-for-marcus-booksHome of Oldest Black Bookstore in U.S. Sold at Foreclosure Auction

On Sunday, June 16, 2013, forty supporters of the oldest black bookstore in the U.S. went to church to pray that speculators who purchased the building at a foreclosure auction will sell it to a non-profit investment group at a small profit so that the bookstore can remain open in San Francisco’s Fillmore neighborhood. The new owners have ordered an eviction of the bookstore and residents of the building for as soon as June 18, 2013.

About twenty supporters entered the church mass at 11:00am at St. Nicholas Church, 5200 Diamond Heights Blvd (between Duncan Street and Safira Lane) to pray for the bookstore. One of the new property owners is a deacon at the church. The bookstore’s supporters silently held images of St. Nicholas that stated “Pray the Sweis’ Do the Right Thing: Save Marcus Books” during the service, while the rest of those attending stood outside the church handing flyers the congregation.

Links    Background    Videos    Photos

Links:

- SF Examiner article: http://www.sfexaminer.com/sanfrancisco/marcus-books-on-the-brink-of-closure/Content?oid=2449806

- KGO video and article: http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/story?section=news/local/san_francisco&id=9134353

- History of Marcus Bookstore: http://www.marcusbookstores.com/history.html

Background:

Founded in 1960, in a building that once housed the jazz club Jimbo’s Bop City and was saved from the redevelopment bulldozers in the Fillmore neighborhood, Marcus Bookstore has long served the African-American community in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Bookstore owners and building residents Gregory and Karen Johnson took out a loan in 2006 to pay expenses. During the economic downturn, payments on their predatory loan ballooned to more than $10,000 a month. Then came bankruptcy and eventually a bank foreclosure auction that sold the property to speculators.

According to the San Francisco Examiner, Westside Community Services has offered to pay the new owners, Nishan and Suhaila Sweis of South San Francisco, $1.64 million for the building, which would be a profit of $50,000 or 3 percent, but the Sweises are apparently holding out for $3.2 million.

A number of organizations and individuals have declared their support of Marcus Bookstore, including Westside Community Services, Supervisor London Breed, NAACP, John Coltrane Church, Code Pink, Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE), and others.

ACCE is the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment and is a network of dozens of community based organizations across California working in 14 different Counties to raise the voice of low income, immigrant and working families across the state for better jobs, schools, healthcare and housing. In San Francisco, ACCE Chapters work in the city’s lowest income communities to bring accountable and transparent investment back to their communities to achieve these goals. For more information visit www.calorganize.org.

Videos

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Banks Too Big to Jail? Homeowners Occupy U.S. Department of Justice

IMAG0634Update as of May 22, 2013: 34 arrested so far.


IMAG0633Hundreds of Foreclosure and Eviction Fighters and supporters from the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE), the Home Defenders League, and other organizations occupied the U.S. Department of Justice building in Washington, D.C., on May 20, 2013, to demand justice by prosecuting the banks for their crimes. Some of the protestors were arrested.

Actions in support of the Washington, D.C., protest took place in San Francisco and elsewhere.

Between 400 and 500 protesters rallied at the Department of Justice (DOJ), closing Constitution Avenue and the three main entrances to DOJ. Folks demanded that Attorney General Eric Holder “Jail the Banksters” and “Not to Big to Jail”. Leaders of the CA ACCE-lad Home Defenders League and Occupy Our Homes struggled with police for access to DOJ. Members were tased (!!!), and seventeen were arrested, including our sister Rose Dennis of Oakland ACCE. A large contingent are occupying the main DOJ entrance tonight, and anticipate arrest tomorrow morning. Viv was quoted in the national Huffington Post report below. ALL of the press led with “Homeowners Occupy DOJ.” Here in SF, twenty SF ACCE members occupied the N CA office of DOJ, and after a confrontation, forced the Attorney in Charge to FAX our demand letter to Attorney General Eric Holder. Highlights of the local TV coverage included an interview with Vivian Richardson in DC; a 2011 tape from back when she had long hair; and a classic Ross Rhodes preach/speech.

Links:    Media Coverage    Videos    Photos

Media Coverage

Huffington Post    Washington Post    PressTV    Common Dreams    ABC 7    Color Lines    Moyers and Company    Bold Progressives    Huffington Post       In These Times       Oakland Post    Hullabaloo    Daily Kos    Deadly Clear    Fire Dog Lake    Raw Story    Rolling Stone    Huffington Post

Videos

Photos

And check this out: Jail the Bankers Light Show

Foreclosure and Eviction Fighters From ACCE / Occupy Meet Wells Fargo re Predatory Loans

Update: Later on May 15, 2013, Wells Fargo evicted disabled African-American senior Bernetta Adolph after years of struggle.


Update: On May 15, 2013, Merrie Jo and Edzel Musni received a called from Wells Fargo’s HELOC department referencing Miguel Bustos, so there is at least one positive outcome of the meeting.


IMG_3608_1On May 14, 2013, five Foreclosure and Eviction Fighters and supporters from the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE), Occupy Bernal, Occupy Noe, and the Occupy the Auctions and Evictions Campaign met with Wells Fargo executive Miguel Bustos regarding Wells Fargo’s predatory and discriminatory lending practices and how to resolve 18 default, foreclosure, and related eviction cases in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Wells Fargo executives who attended the April 10, 2013, meeting of the San Francisco Employee Retirement System (SFERS) Retirement Board and offered repeatedly to meet during the SFERS meeting, then snubbed all the email invitations sent to them after the SFERS meeting was over. So, ACCE and Occupy activists entered a Wells Fargo Home Mortgage Center at 2258 Market Street and demanded a meeting with one of the executives.

If Miguel Bustos was sincere in his commitment to make a real effort to settle the 18 cases brought to him, including the case of Bernetta Adolph who faces eviction on May 15, 2013, then the meeting was a successful one.

Links: Videos    Photos

Videos

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SFERS Again Delays Action on Discriminatory Lending Motions for City Retirement Funds

IMG_3525_1At the May 8, 2013, meeting of the San Francisco Employee Retirement System (SFERS) Retirement Board, the Commissioners again took no action to implement the SFERS Social Investment Policies which specifically state they should engage at “Level I” to vote on shareholder resolutions at corporate shareholder meetings of corporations engaged in “discriminatory lending”.

Commissioner Brenda Wright, a Senior Vice President of Community Relations at Wells Fargo, currently serving beyond the end of her term, was not present.

Twelve organizers from the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE) and Occupy Bernal attended the meeting prepared to deliver a statement at the public comment period traditionally held at the opening of the meeting. Instead, they found that SFERS Executive Director Jay Huish had moved the public comment period to nearly the end of the agenda.

IMG_3529_1Then, during his Executive Report, Jay Huish announced that at his “discretion” he had cancelled a May 29 meeting calendared at the request of San Francisco Supervisor Malia Cohen, who is the sole Commissioner on the SFERS Retirement Board appointed by the President of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. Some Commissioners questioned Executive Director Huish about the reasons for his decision to cancel the May 29 meeting and he said he would calendar the discriminatory lending item for no later than the July 10th meeting agenda. In the public comment for that item, some organizers complained about Executive Director Huish’s seemingly arbitrary decisions and how they made public comment and discussion of the discriminatory lending issue much more difficult.

Representatives of San Francisco Supervisor John Avalos and the movement for fossil fuel divestment also commented that Executive Director Huish’s report failed to mention passage of a resolution by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors urging SFERS to divest from fossil fuel investments.

The organizers, who had arrived at 1:00pm in order to make sure they would be able to get seats in the small windowless room where the SFERS Retirement Board holds its meetings (despite promises to shift the venue), found that we had to wait until nearly 5:00pm, that is for four hours, to make our comments. The comments reminded the SFERS Commissioners of their Social Investment Policies regarding investing in corporations engaging in discriminatory lending and documented the extensive proof of discriminatory lending on the part of Bank of America and Wells Fargo in particular, since they are the ones who the U.S. Department of Justice compelled to arrive at the largest settlements by far in U.S. history for their discriminatory lending practices.

The organizers also asked everyone for a minute of silence to mourn Wells Fargo’s eviction of disabled African-American senior Bernetta Adolph, a SFERS plan participant, and to pray that she finds a safe and secure home.

Go to: Videos    Photos    Background    Links   

Videos

Photos

Background:

IMG_2337_1Current and retired city employees, Foreclosure and Eviction Fighters, and supporters from Service Employees International Union (SEIU) 1021, Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE), Occupy Bernal, Occupy Noe, and the Occupy the Auctions and Evictions Campaign provided important testimony about the illegal, predatory, and discriminatory practices of banks like Wells Fargo, JP Morgan Chase, and Bank of America at meeting of the San Francisco Employee Retirement System Retirement Board on January 9, February 13, March 13, and April 10, 2013.

At each meeting, the group asked the Retirement Board to uphold its fiduciary responsibility to investigate the illegal, predatory, and discriminatory practices of the banks, to request that the banks stop these practices, to sponsor shareholder resolutions if they don’t stop, and to divest from the banks’ stocks if the shareholder resolutions do not succeed. Some of the Commissioners responded favorably to the public comment testimony.

A number of organizations have declared their support of the motions including organizations representing most of the members of the SFERS retirement system:

The San Francisco Employee Retirement Systems (SFERS) handles investments for pension funds for current and retired San Francisco city employees. SFERS has policies that include “Social Investment Procedures” adopted at the SFERS Retirement Board meeting of September 27, 1988, which requires the SFERS Retirement Board when making investments in stocks, mutual funds, and so on, to consider:

“Community Relations: the relationship of the corporation to the communities in which it operates shall be maintained as a good corporate citizen through observing proper environmental standards, supporting the local economic, social and cultural climate, conducting acquisitions and reorganizations to minimize adverse effects and not discriminate in making loans or writing insurance.” (emphasis added by Occupy the Auctions)

A record number of San Francisco City and County employees, as well as others residents of San Francisco and beyond, are facing mortgage loan defaults, foreclosures, and evictions (an estimated 12,000 foreclosures in San Francisco between 2008 and 2011). Many have already lost their homes.

Wells Fargo, JP Morgan Chase, and Bank of America are the market leaders in foreclosures and related evictions here in San Francisco and statewide. These banks engaged in illegal, predatory, and discriminatory practices by putting African-American and Latino borrowers into higher-cost, subprime loans than white borrowers. In fact, in July 2012, Wells Fargo agreed to pay what ended up as $234.3 million to settle a United States Department of Justice lawsuit for its discriminatory mortgage lending practices affecting more than 30,000 borrowers, including those banking at the Bayview Wells Fargo branch.

Billions of dollars in mortgage lender settlements with government agencies and other parties have to date not managed to solve the mortgage lending crisis, making mortgage lenders and servicers a potential medium-term and long-term investment risk. Illegal, predatory, and discriminatory foreclosures harm all homeowners, erode the property tax base, and cost local governments, hurting the standard of living of retirees and all working people.

01Wells Fargo is #1 in San Francisco foreclosures. San Francisco’s Mayor and Board of Supervisors have unanimously requested a halt to foreclosures and related evictions, especially since San Francisco Assessor-Recorder’s report showing that 84% of foreclosures have at least one legal violation and due to Wells’ $234.3 million settlement with the United States Department of Justice paid in response to allegations of racial discrimination in providing mortgage loans in San Francisco’s Bayview-Hunters Point and other neighborhoods.

Wells Fargo’s “waterfall” model, along with similar policies from other lenders, ensures that the bank can squeeze the most money possible from homeowners struggling to make payments while finally discarding them like trash if the bank can’t make a profit on every single loan. Running a mortgage loan business means assuming risks, especially after receiving billions in bailout funds from the taxpayers, many of whom are Wells’ mortgage loan borrowers.

Wells Fargo is putting 32 families at risk of losing their homes due to foreclosure and related evictions during this holiday season. Wells Fargo is foreclosing on and evicting veterans and disabled and senior homeowners and families with children, as well as targeting homeowners with life-threatening illnesses. Wells Fargo has engaged in predatory, fraudulent, and racist lending practices and has contributed to a rash of foreclosure deaths.

Links:

Statement Read by ACCE/Occupy Organizers at May 8, 2013, SFERS Retirement Board Meeting    Petition Supporting SFERS Motions    SFERS Retirement Board Meeting on April 10, 2013    Agenda for SFERS Retirement Board Meeting on April 10, 2013    Staff Memo for SFERS Retirement Board Meeting on April 10, 2013    SFERS Social Investment Policy    Members of SFERS Retirement Board    SFERS Retirement Board Meeting on March 13, 2013    SFERS Retirement Board Meeting on January 9, 2013    San Francisco Business Times    KCBS (including audio segment)    Wells Pays $234.3 Million to Resolve Allegations of Racial Discrimination in Providing Mortgage Loans    Occupy Our Homes Wells Fargo Bayview Branch Action    Occupy Wells Fargo Noe Branch    Occupy Wells Fargo HQ    Occupy Senior and Veteran Evictions and Foreclosures (Occupy Anniversary)

Occupy the Banks for Housing Justice on April 27, 2013

IMG_3484_1Foreclosure and Eviction Fighters took the struggle for housing justice to the Mission neighborhood in San Francisco on April 27, 2013, with an Occupy the Banks for Housing Justice bank crawl.

The crowd visited the Bank of America branch near 29th and Mission Streets, the JP Morgan Chase branch at 26th and Mission Streets, the Bank of America branch at 23rd and Mission Streets, the US Bank branch at 22nd and Mission Streets, and the Wells Fargo branch at 22nd and Missions Streets.

At each branch, Foreclosure and Eviction Fighters delivered a letter to be faxed to bank executives. The group leafleted the Mission in Spanish and English.

Many thanks to the Brass Liberation Orchestra which provided festive music for the event and to Reverend Billy and the Stop Bank of America Gospel Choir (aka Stop Shopping Choir) visiting from New York City who joined up with us at the second Bank of America branch.

Occupy Wells Fargo Vigil to Stop Evictions on April 26, 2013

IMG_3343_1The Occupy Wells Fargo Vigil to Stop Evictions on April 26, 2013, took place at the Wells Fargo History Museum at 420 Montgomery Street in San Francisco.

Today, we got more pictures of Wells Fargo employees and their cronies. See if you know any of them and tell them not to cross our picket line for housing justice.

Wells Fargo apparently works with a firm called Shetler Security for most of its security guards. Some of them have been taking notes on our protest activities as well as photos and videos. Today, they called the police and you can see a video below of what transpired.

We continue to demand that Wells Fargo stop foreclosing on and evicting our neighbors with their illegal, predatory, or discriminatory loans.

We look forward to continuing the vigils this week and ongoing until Wells Fargo stops their illegal, predatory, or discriminatory foreclosures and evictions of folks like our neighbors Manuela Alvarez, Peter Fairfield and Linnea Sweet, and disabled senior Bernetta Adolph.

To find out more and RSVP for one of the vigil opportunities, see http://occupytheauctions.org/wordpress/?p=8570

Occupy Wells Fargo Vigil to Stop Evictions on April 24, 2013

The Occupy Wells Fargo Vigil to Stop Evictions on April 24, 2013, took place at the Wells Fargo History Museum at 420 Montgomery Street in San Francisco.

Today, we got lots of pictures of Wells Fargo employees and their cronies. See if you know any of them and tell them not to cross our picket line for housing justice.

We continue to demand that Wells Fargo stop foreclosing on and evicting our neighbors with their illegal, predatory, or discriminatory loans.

We look forward to continuing the vigils this week and ongoing until Wells Fargo stops their illegal, predatory, or discriminatory foreclosures and evictions of folks like our neighbors Manuela Alvarez, Peter Fairfield and Linnea Sweet, and disabled senior Bernetta Adolph.

To find out more and RSVP for one of the vigil opportunities, see http://occupytheauctions.org/wordpress/?p=8570

A23 Wells Fargo Shareholder Meeting Protests Draw Hundreds of Protestors, Demand Housing Justice

IMG_3112_1A protest at the Wells Fargo headquarters at 420 Montgomery Street in San Francisco took place on April 13, 2013, in coordination with a protest earlier the same day at the Wells Fargo Shareholder meeting held in Salt Lake City, Utah. These protests are a special edition of the Occupy Wells Fargo Vigil to Stop Evictions.

More than a dozen protestors from the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE) and other organizations infiltrated the shareholders meeting and told Wells Fargo executives what they thought of their practices regarding predatory, illegal, and discriminatory lending and related foreclosures and evictions. Maria Alvarez, whose family is facing eviction by Wells Fargo, got to tell Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf to his face that he is a liar, then Wells threw the protestors out of the shareholders meeting.

IMG_3134_1Meanwhile, in San Francisco, about one hundred protestors from the ACCE (San Francisco and Oakland), Occupy Bernal, Occupy Noe, and the Occupy the Auctions and Evictions campaign held a memorial service in front of the Wells Fargo Headquarters and History Museum at 420 Montgomery Street. A trumpeter named Elaine played taps and Archbishop Franzo King delighted participants with his saxophone stylings. Various spokespeople read out the names of those who have lost their home or their lives to foreclosures and evictions, spoke in solidarity with those protesting in Salt Lake City, and listed off the many families still struggling to save their homes from Wells Fargo. After each name or section, the crowd chanted repeatedly, “Housing Justice, Home Security!”. Finally, Kathy Lipscomb and Merrie Jo Musni delivered some calalilies to Wells Fargo to complete the memorial service.

Links: Media Coverage    Videos of Wells Fargo Protest in Salt Lake City    Videos of Wells Fargo Protest in San Francisco   Photos of Wells Fargo Protest    Videos of Union Bank Protest    Photos of Union Bank Protest

Media Coverage

ABC 4: http://www.abc4.com/content/news/slc/story/Protestors-travel-to-SLC-to-rally-at-Wells-Fargos/bxvrOQVRw0ySHLv5QpLKXA.cspx

Associated Press: http://www.ctpost.com/news/crime/article/Demonstrators-disrupt-Wells-Fargo-meeting-in-Utah-4456961.php

Charlotte Business Journal: http://www.bizjournals.com/charlotte/blog/bank_notes/2013/04/protesters-interrupt-wells-fargo.html

Deseret News: http://www.deseretnews.com/article/print/865578855/Protestors-target-Wells-Fargo-annual-meeting.html

Getty Images: http://www.google.com/hostednews/getty/article/ALeqM5gRHE2aisbbNKB1X2Aq31hpdgV86A?docId=167277289

Philadelphia Business Journal: http://www.bizjournals.com/philadelphia/blog/jeff-blumenthal/2013/04/big-banks-met-with-protest-at-annual.html

Salt Lake Tribune: http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/money/56197313-79/wells-fargo-meeting-bank.html.csp

San Francisco Bay Guardian: http://www.sfbg.com/print/politics/2013/04/23/wells-fargo-foreclosure-fighters-they%E2%80%99re-baaaack

San Francisco Business Times: http://www.bizjournals.com/sanfrancisco/blog/2013/04/protesters-hit-wells-fargo-annual.html?page=all

Videos of Wells Fargo Protest in Salt Lake City

Videos of Wells Fargo Protest in San Francisco

Photos of Wells Fargo Protest

Then, the group broke up with some people going on to protest an eviction by Union Bank at a branch nearby.

Videos of Union Bank Protest

Photos of Union Bank Protest

Occupy Wells Fargo Vigil to Stop Evictions on April 20, 2013

IMG_3089_1The Occupy Wells Fargo Vigil to Stop Evictions on April 20, 2013, was a double header — it took place at the Wells Fargo branches at 286 King Street and 490 Brannan Street in San Francisco. Wells Fargo called their corporate security and the police to the protests. Wells Fargo threatened us with a citizen’s arrest, presumably for trespassing, but courteous police officers detained us briefly while writing a police report and released us with a little receipt (no charges or citations).

IMG_3106_1We continue to demand that Wells Fargo stop foreclosing on and evicting our neighbors with their illegal, predatory, or discriminatory loans.

We look forward to continuing the vigils on an ongoing basis until Wells Fargo stops their illegal, predatory, or discriminatory foreclosures and evictions of folks like our neighbors Manuela Alvarez, Peter Fairfield and Linnea Sweet, and disabled senior Bernetta Adolph.

To find out more and RSVP for one of the vigil opportunities, see http://occupytheauctions.org/wordpress/?p=8570

Photos of takeover of Wells Fargo branch at 286 King Street:

Photos of takeover of Wells Fargo branch at 490 Brannan Street:

Occupy Wells Fargo Vigil to Stop Evictions on April 19, 2013

IMG_3051_1The Occupy Wells Fargo Vigil to Stop Evictions on April 19, 2013, took place at the Wells Fargo History Museum at 420 Montgomery Street in San Francisco. We continue to demand that Wells Fargo stop foreclosing on and evicting our neighbors with their illegal, predatory, or discriminatory loans.

We look forward to continuing the vigils this week and ongoing until Wells Fargo stops their illegal, predatory, or discriminatory foreclosures and evictions of folks like our neighbors Manuela Alvarez, Peter Fairfield and Linnea Sweet, and disabled senior Bernetta Adolph.

To find out more and RSVP for one of the vigil opportunities, see http://occupytheauctions.org/wordpress/?p=8570