Foreclosures, Economic Inequality Draw Diverse Group in Protests

Nakia Hill
Spare Change News

Economic inequalities, social injustices, foreclosures, and $5 debit card fees brought together a variety of people for Take Back Boston on Friday, September 30. White-collar workers, activists, immigrants, LGBT citizens, low-income citizens, youth, and the elderly all marched together from Boston Common to Bank of America’s Headquarters on Federal Street.

The Bay State is no stranger to protests, but Friday’s march was remarkable because of the eclectic population it attracted. Young men marched in their Timberland boots and Boston-fitted caps holding up colorful signs and chanting alongside the elderly and disabled in wheelchairs. Race, age, religion, or class didn’t matter, because protesters all rallied and marched for one purpose, to fight against greedy corporations.

Protesters Rose Nozea and Morine Webster both marched because their homes are facing foreclosure.

“I have lived in my home for 35 years. My parents, who are immigrants, came to this country, they worked hard and they passed away recently within the last two years, and unfortunately I’m experiencing foreclosure because I’m the heir to their home,” Nozea said. “By the increase of foreclosure it’s bringing the value of our home in the community down,” she continued.

The Take Back Boston march was an extension of the speedily growing national movement to hold Wall Street accountable. It was organized by the Right to the City Alliance, an urban movement for economic justice, which used Friday’s event as a signal of the rising tide of outrage at the deepening recession and the ongoing mortgage crisis.

“Across the country, we are seeing the same story: the mortgage bubble created by Wall Street pushed predatory lending on urban communities and, since the bubble burst, the fallout has been catastrophic. Unemployment and foreclosure have hit communities of color first and worst,” Rachel Laforest, executive director of the Right to the City Alliance, said in the organization’s press release. “But it is urban communities who are at the forefront of the movement to fight back. We took this direct action to demand payback from Bank of America.”

Boston Community Workers Alliance, Lynn United For Change, Worcester Anti-Foreclosure Team, MassUniting, Chinese Progressive Association, and City Life Vida Urbana were just a few of the various organizations participating.

Organizers and supporters traveled from New Orleans and New York City to participate in the march, which was a microcosm of what the civil rights movement might look like in 2011. Protesters sat in the Bank of America lobbies on Federal Street and refused to leave the premises. Twenty-four people were arrested and charged with trespassing; they yelled their signature chant, “What do we do when the banks attack? Stand up, fight back!” while being escorted to the paddy wagons.

Bullhorns sounded off and homemade picket signs stood high. Over 3,000 people stood outside the Verizon office to stand up for the 45,000 Verizon workers who are fighting for a fair contract. Protesters were also supporting the housekeepers fired by Hyatt hotels in 2009. As the crowd moved their way through downtown Boston, many corporate employees stared out of their office windows at a march that included women pushing baby carriages and children holding “Take Back Our City” posters. The numbers grew as protesters marched on Summer Street downtown with curious and supportive bystanders joining the march.

“WE GONNA BEAT BACK THE BANK ATTACK! WE GONNA BEAT, BEAT BACK THE ATTACK,” went a hip-hop song written by local urban apparel designer and City Life Urbana Vida organizer Antonio Ansaldi, whose home is in foreclosure. Ansaldi decided not to fall victim to foreclosure, but instead to protest the banks to fight back.

“It’s just like we’re in a boxing match, when you got your fighter on the ropes and you’re posted back ready for the kill. This is what it is, because they’re going in for the kill on us. They don’t care about anything that is personal to us,” Ansaldi said.

On October 1, New York City’s Occupy Wall Street march took place on the streets of NYC. Protesters disrupted traffic on the Brooklyn Bridge to call attention to the same inequalities that Bostonians are fighting. An estimated 700 protesters were arrested during the Occupy Wall Street protest to make a statement about the changes that they wanted to see in this country.

Morine Webster summed it up. “I’m out here protesting so we can send a message not only for me, but for all Americans or whoever comes here to work hard and wants to make a good life. I hope it will send that message so we can move forward in good condition.”

NAKIA HILL is a writer and editor for Spare Change News.

PHOTO/NAKIA HILL/SPARE CHANGE NEWS

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