Five Chicago women were arrested at a downtown Bank of America branch Tuesday, Oct. 11 after they threw bags of garbage from foreclosed properties into the bank and then refused to leave. Gloria Washington, 80, Donna Roberts, 56, Annie Harris, 76, Doris Strickland, 68 and Madeline Talbot, 61, all Chicago residents, entered the bank located at 135 S. LaSalle St. at around 12:30 p.m. The ladies were all carrying trash they collected from vacant foreclosed homes on the West Side as part of a weeklong demonstration organized by the Take Back Chicago (TBC) movement.
Oct. 11 marked day two of TBC week. The day of action began with several community groups cleaning up vacant and blighted properties owned by Chase and Bank of America. Many involved in the TBC movement feel that the banks should pay them back for their hard work by creating more jobs and by investing back into communities hit hard by foreclosures.
Themed ‘Taking Back Our Homes’ , the protest march was geared to put big banks on notice about Chicago residents who hold them accountable for the upkeep and maintenance of vacant and neglected foreclosed properties. Many of these locations, still owned by banks, have allegedly become magnets for crime, drugs, rapes and even dead bodies.
“I’m protesting so our voices can be heard; these big corporations need to know that the people need help,” said Gerri Dotson, who participated in the march.
Dotson like many of the protestors hasn’t been directly affected by foreclosure but expressed that she can empathize with what many people are going through.
“Instead of having all these vacant unsafe properties, they should just let the people move back into their homes they took away from them and stop being greedy.” stated Dotson.
City ordinance states that, if a building is vacant for more them 30 days, the owner must secure all openings to ensure against unlawful entry, cut the grass, remove weeds, garbage, debris, dead trees or any fallen limbs, keep exit areas continuously lit from dusk to dawn, keep the vacant building’s interior free from junk, debris, trash, rodents and pests and must maintain an operable 24-hour burglar alarm system.
According to the TBC Facebook page, the movement is a mobilization of 7,500 working Chicagoans who want to begin taking back the jobs, homes, and schools they feel were stolen from them because of greedy big banks and big business. At some point during each day of TBC week, five separate feeder marches take place converging into one massive rally.
By: Abbréa Stiffend