“Wells Fargo, you can’t hide. We can see your greedy side,” chanted the crowd standing in front of the Mason family’s home on Elmont Street in Dorchester.
About 30 people protested for the Mason family against Wells Fargo on the evening of Good Friday. The family has been trying to buy their house back for the past seven years and has been financially approved to do so, but the bank keeps rejecting their offers. Community non-profits, like the Coalition for Occupied Homes in Foreclosing and Boston Community Capital, have even made offers to the bank on behalf of the family, but Wells Fargo also rejected those offers.
“If there is something wrong with the house, we don’t have the ability to fix it,” said Larvern Bridges, 30, the mother who lives in the house. Thanks to some further pending legalities the family can remain in the house, but they still don’t have much control over the house, which has been their home since the year 2000. “We don’t have the ability to make our lives any better because we are waiting on somebody else who has more control over our house than we do,”said Bridges.
The crowd made big noise with chants, cheers, and musical instruments booming through the cold air and down the streets of the neighborhood. A statement of support from the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau student attorney handling the Mason family’s case was read at the vigil. The bureau has been handling the Mason family’s case since 2012.
The crowd chanted along with Antonio Ennis, a community organizer of City Life/Vida Urbana (CLVU), a grassroots community organization that fights for tenants’ rights. Ennis explained to the crowd the purpose of the vigil protest, and talked about how Wells Fargo scammed clients for money and suppressed communities of color and low income people. And after all that, “they still feel a need to do what they’re doing now, which is trying to suppress this family of their home,” Ennis said to the crowd, which continued to chant supportive “boos.”
Back in 2008, CLVU helped to prevent Wells Fargo from evicting the Meyers family from their Dorchester home on Norfolk Street. It was a big victory as the Boston Workers Alliance, Community Labor United, the AFL-CIO, Dorchester People for Peace, and the Women’s Fightback Network were also there to show support.
While the fight against Wells Fargo is ongoing for the Mason family, the Jim Brooks Community Stabilization Act is awaiting a vote at the Massachusetts State House. The Jim Brooks Act would require landlords to report evictions to the City of Boston, and the city must notify the households facing eviction of their rights and resources. It would also require that the banks taking possession of any foreclosed properties provide a “just cause” for evicting former homeowners. The State House Committee on the Judiciary has until May 2, 2018 to vote on the legislation. The CLVU encouraged the crowd at the vigil to show up then.
“Thank you everyone for coming out to show support on Good Friday to do a good thing,” Ennis said.
Bridges was joined by her 13-year-old son, 11-year-old nephew, and later, her sister. At the vigil, she welcomed the extended support from her neighbors, community members, and friends. “I thank everyone for coming out to help make our voice bigger,” said Bridges.
Among the crowd of support was Jean Paul, 60, who lives in the neighborhood. “People should know their rights,” he said. “It may happen to me, and it may happen to somebody else, so you have to be together to support each other.”