Report blames financial institutions for home-buyer defaults

Gregg Reese | 9/28/2011, 5 p.m.

Frustrated by what she and other besieged homeowners felt were the abrasive attitudes of lien holders in general, Mears was compelled to borrow a page from the recent history of civil disobedience, in the tradition of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr.

By December, she and 21 other individuals, including the Rev. Lewis Logan, pastor of the local Ruach Christian Community Fellowship, took the dramatic initiative of moving furniture into a downtown branch of the Chase banking and financial services conglomerate, where ACCE staged a "sit-in" reminiscent of the protest movements of the 1960s. This nonviolent protest continued until they were arrested.

Mears explained ACCE's motivation thusly: "Since Chase would not let our members keep their homes, we decided to 'move' into theirs."

Since then, Mears has been active within the fold of ACCE as an activist and organizer to the point where she was granted an economic reprieve in the form of employment as an ACCE staff member in August. Summing up her recent experiences, she states flatly, "Had I not become involved with ACCE, I would not have my home today."

Recently, Mears was on her way to La Puente to demonstrate support for another ACCE member about to be evicted from her home. The group remains committed to passive resistance and the possibility of incarceration for their beliefs.

As the nation's financial straits, and arguably its most prominent component--the issue of home foreclosure--dominate the news, Mears and other afflicted victims continue to mobilize in response. On Sept. 22, members of ACCE met in front of the Grape Street Elementary School in Watts to dramatize the situation. They walked several feet from the school to one of the foreclosed houses that has been left unattended and unmaintained, contributing to the overall blight of the neighborhood.

The organization has also designated Monday as the start of an official "week of action." ACCE will redouble its efforts in tandem with Clean L.A., SEIU Local #721, United Teachers of Los Angeles, and other organizations. They will randomly pick a downtown area bank in which to stage a "teach-in" to instruct patrons about fraudulent bank practices and other related topics.

On Tuesday, they plan to disrupt a banker's meeting, hold a press conference in front of a bank CEO's personal residence, and on Thursday gather hundreds for a "Mass Action Day" rally to demand that banks pay a "fair share" of taxes and other forms of repayment to homeowners and other victims of the recession.

More information about these activities may be accessed at the website, www.makebankspaycalifornia.com/. The report, "The Wall Street Wrecking Ball," can be found at ACCE's website: www.calorganize.org/.