Mimicking the foreclosure papers that many of them have been served, today's team brought a "notice to quit" for Gallery, a giant copy of which they promptly affix to the executive's distinguished door with duct tape. It reads: "Please be advised that we represent middle-class and low-income families in Massachusetts — the citizens who have been most greatly affected by Bank of America's destructive business practices. You and your bank are hereby notified to quit the following activities within nine (9) days of this Notice."
As the group chants and seethes, people read the demands over a bullhorn — the most critical of which is that BoA "halt all foreclosures and evictions until underwater mortgages can be renegotiated." The nine-day notice expires this Friday — the day they plan to storm the downtown area. In the meantime, though, everybody's goal is to spread the word, and people seem to be listening. There's a steady stream of honks from passing drivers, while a tattooed tough from the city's Water and Sewer Commission stops his truck in the middle of the street and leans on the horn. On the sidewalk, two housewives with fistfuls of obnoxious bling even pause from their daily jog to watch along.
Despite the almost joyous revelry, there are constant reminders about how serious these matters are. A man named Antonio tells of his struggle with BoA, which he says tried to evict him from the home that his family's owned for 45 years. Eliza Parad, an organizer with the Chelsea Citywide Tenants Association, pulled at even heavier heartstrings. After a series of health problems led to her wife committing suicide, Parad found a community bank that was willing to purchase her home at the market value. But BoA refused to sell, darkening an already nightmarish scenario for Parad and her children. Following a half-hour of such testimonials, the group walks off chanting a familiar cry: "WE'LL BE BACK."
OPEN HOUSE Members of the advocacy nonprofit City Life/Vida Urbana disrupt a foreclosure auction in Hyde Park earlier this year. This tactic has helped keep families off the streets.
READY TO RUMBLE
As you read this, hundreds of hardcore activists from across the country are arriving in Boston, where they'll be attending Right to the City's annual congress. It's no coincidence that the social and economic justice federation is convening here during the BoA protest, and the subsequent "block rebellion" on Saturday, when coalition members will hold a giant barbecue on three streets in Dorchester that have been ravaged by foreclosures and move a family into an abandoned property on NBC national news. Activists are flying in from as far as San Francisco and Miami for the purpose of helping their Boston counterparts launch the most calculated and well-publicized attack on BoA yet.
One week before the big action, MassUniting operatives hung signs outside of Kenmore Square — on both sides of the I-90 overpass — so that commuters could see their message. Last Saturday, City Life and other groups dispatched foot soldiers to go door to door around Boston, spreading the word of the upcoming rally. And back at City Life headquarters, volunteers spent Sunday afternoon in civil-disobedience training with attorneys.