POSTED BY JILL STEIN FOR PRESIDENT ON AUGUST 01, 2012
Stein and Honkala
arrested in protest of foreclosure giant Fannie Mae
Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein and her vice presidential
running mate Cheri Honkala were arrested today during a protest at the
offices of mortgage company Fannie Mae on Banker's Row in Philadelphia.
Among those arrested along with Dr. Stein and Ms. Honkala were labor
lawyer James Moran and Sister Margaret McKenna of the Medical Mission
Sisters. An attorney who supports civil disobedience cases is providing
legal assistance. All of those arrested are expected to come before a
judge early on Thursday morning. At that time bail will either be set
or they will be released on their own recognizance.
The protest was originally called for by the Poor People's Economic
Human Rights Campaign to demand that the giant mortgage company halt
foreclosure proceedings against two Philadelphia residents in danger of
losing their homes. Stein joined the protest after Cheri Honkala joined
her as Stein's vice presidential running mate. Honkala, a former
homeless single mother, has been confronting banks and mortgage
companies for decades demanding that they adopt policies that will,
"keep families in their homes."
At 1pm today about 50 protestors gathered outside of Fannie Mae's
Philadelphia headquarters. They heard from Miss Fran and Rhonda
Lancaster, the heads of two families evicted by Fannie Mae in its
refusal to negotiate an alternative to foreclosure. Fannie Mae
executive Zach Oppenheimer had previously promised in writing to meet
with the two women in order to discuss other options. Yet no followup
meeting ever took place, and so protestors today entered the Fannie Mae
building and vowed to stay until Mr. Oppenheimer's word was honored.
At about 2:30pm, an hour after entering the building and beginning a
sitdown protest, lower level Fannie Mae officials agreed to meet with
Miss Fran and Ms. Lancaster. These meetings proved inconclusive, ending
only with promises of more meetings. With Philadelphia police on hand
with six paddy wagons and plainclothesman, a smaller subset of
protestors stayed inside the building and risked arrest. Five were
arrested, including Dr. Stein and Ms. Honkala.
In explaining why she joined the protest, Stein said that almost half
of Americans now live in poverty or near poverty, eight million
families face eviction from their homes due to foreclosures, and over a
third of mortgage holders are "underwater" - meaning that they owe more
to the lenders than their properties are worth on the market.
Said Stein, "The developers and financiers made trillions of dollars
through the housing bubble and the imposition of crushing debt on
homeowners. And when homeowners could no longer pay them what they
demanded, they went to government and got trillions of dollars of
bailouts. Every effort of the Obama Administration has been to prop
this system up and keep it going at taxpayer expense. It's time for
this game to end. It's time for the laws be written to protect the
victims and not the perpetrators. It's time for a new deal for America,
and a Green New Deal is what we will deliver on taking office. "
"The laws and the budgets and the procedures are designed to protect
the lenders and to extract as much money as possible from the victims,"
Honkala explained. "This isn't the way it would be if we really had a
government of the people, by the people, and for the people. The first
goal of government should be to keep families in their homes, and to
provide restitution for the deception and fraud that has robbed
millions of Americans of financial security."
Stein laid out a number of steps that will be part of a new deal for
homeowners when and where the Green Party wins power. First, as
President, Dr. Stein would issue an executive order establishing a
moratorium on foreclosures of occupied dwellings. Second,
municipalities governed by Greens will get homeowners out of underwater
mortgages by seizing mortgages through eminent domain and letting
non-profit community development organizations - not Wall Street banks
- reissue the mortgages.
Noting that the Obama administration has only released 10% of the aid
that Congress had promised to homeowners, Stein asserted that "There is
much more interest in Washington in protecting the profits of banks
than in getting this aid out to the families whose lives are falling
apart. President Obama held a big press conference to announce a
program that would supposedly help 1.5 million homeowners and so far it
has actually helped only 1 per cent of that number. Real help goes to
the CEOs who play golf with the President and the people get lip
service. This will change only if the people stand up and say
we're not going to put up with it anymore."
Statement from RHONDA LANCASTER (Excerpted from People’s Tribune):
My family has lived in this home in Germantown for over 35 years. When
my mother got ill and could not afford her health care, a reverse
mortgage idea was presented to me. They made it look like it was a
great thing. It was going to take care of my mother, and when my
mother passed away it would be just fine.
The nightmare started after my mom died. I notified the bank she had
passed away, and two days later I was getting ready for her funeral.
Relatives and friends were coming in from all over the country. The
bank told me to stop everything and let them come in and do an
The bank refused to accept me as the executor of her estate, although
the proper papers had been filed at City Hall. From that point on it
was a complete nightmare. I could get through to no one and no one
could help me. They denied me my legal US rights as heir to my
Statement from MISS FRAN (Excerpted from People’s Tribune):
I have lived in Philadelphia all my life, and in this house since
1988. Once when I was forced to file for bankruptcy, my mortgage
holder, Chase Bank, suddenly came to court and objected to my
bankruptcy plan. Although the law requires them to notify me in
advance, I had no warning of their action, so I had no lawyer and no
time to prepare my evidence. The judge dismissed my file for
bankruptcy and Chase began foreclosure proceedings.
I participated in Philadelphia’s Mortgage Foreclosure Diversion
Program, so I was able to keep my home off the sheriff sale list. Then
they claimed I missed a Conciliation Conference even though they had
never notified me about it. When I complained, the court rescheduled
the sheriff sale of my home from July 1, 2008, to September. I
attended that sale on July 1 and was shocked to hear them put my house
up for sale anyway. I was in the back of the auditorium and ran to the
front making so much noise the sheriff’s lawyer had to stop the sale.
Finally they brought in a letter from the sheriff saying they had
obtained a court order that same day to sell the house. They had gone
to court without even notifying me. The same judge who postponed the
sale in the first place had turned around and vacated his own order,
all without telling me.
The sale of my home went through on July 1, but my battle was just
beginning. Although Chase Bank foreclosed on my home, I found out the
sheriff changed the name on the documents to Fannie Mae. There is no
bill of sale from Chase to Fannie Mae and no record of any transfer.
Fannie Mae has no legal standing to evict me. But that didn’t stop
them from trying. They sued to evict me in April 2011. I filed an
objection, it was overruled, I answered them, and we were supposed to
go to trial in February 2012. Then they filed for a summary judgment
against me, which is only supposed to be granted when there is no
dispute in the matter. I told them we most definitely do have a
dispute: a district court order was ignored and Fannie Mae has no
standing. But the judge granted the summary judgment anyway. They
obtained a writ of eviction and scheduled my eviction for June 12.