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Report from a CA foreclosure auction

Good data on tactics:

There were already a few auctioneers standing there with clipboards in hand, ready to start their auctions. The protestors started to chant, with at least one person blowing a whistle. Some of the chants were “they got bailed out, we get tossed out” and “vultures.” [#171] I spoke with a well dressed gentleman who said he was there with his client to place a bid. When asked for his thoughts, he said he thought it was a “joke” and that people should “go home” and “pay their bills.”

The bidders and auctioneers at first seemed somewhat confused or even amused by the situation. However once the protest started to get going, the protesters would circle up around an auctioneer and start chanting so loudly that it was difficult for the auctioneer to be heard . In response, the auctioneers distributed themselves around the steps so that the protesters couldn’t stop all of them. The protesters broke up into a couple of groups, with each group attempting (and succeeding in some cases) in surrounding an auctioneer with chanting people. Electronic media devices were everywhere--people were pulling out phones and digital cameras and taking pictures. I even saw one of the bidders do a self-video with what looked like an Android phone– he showed the crowd then turned the phone on himself and gave a quick narration of the scene [#180]. The protesters were able to disrupt the sales enough that one person I took to be an auctioneer (due to his clip board and demeanor– I have been to more than a few courthouse step auctions) got on the phone and said that it was “getting rough” and he “need[ed] everyone here.” Thankfully he didn’t pull a Gary Oldman and demand EVERYONE.

There was no law enforcement presence on the steps, although I know for a fact that a sheriff’s security station was within 150 yards of the steps inside the courthouse. I did see one law enforcement officer ride by on a bicycle. A picketer waved to him and he waved back [#33 Could this be why?].

I spoke with one of the protesters, Shirley Burnell, an older African-American woman using a walker. She said that she was there because banks are selling homes out from under people. When I asked her whether she had been personally affected by the situation, she related her story to me. Shirley had taken out a loan on her home to make some repairs. She had been given two years of fixed payments, and then told that she could refinance after that into a 30 year fixed loan. That did not happen for her, so she has been seeking a loan modification since 2007, to no avail. I did notice more than a few older people with gray hair in the crowd of protesters. It was more than just college students.

"All walks of life." I hope these stream flows together with the occupations.

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