Stop Garrets’ eviction: Block the dumpster. Now.

Blocking Garrets' eviction by blocking the dumpster
Blocking the dumpster meant for Garrets' eviction. Photo by Steve Babson.

If you’re reading this at any time on Tuesday, William and Bertha Garret need your help to block delivery of the dumpster meant to cart away everything in their house.

Starting at 6 a.m., the action needs people to stand guard and block the Garrets’ eviction throughout the day. Get to 17795 Pierson Street in northwest Detroit whenever you can.

People held off the dumpster on Monday until the truck carrying it drove away. Today, Bank of  New York Mellon, the company that’s evicting the Garrets from their home of 22 years, will be prepared.

Every single person counts. The Garrets need you today. They need you to stand vigil and they need you at a 5 p.m. rally at their house with People Before Banks, Moratorium Now, and Occupy Detroit.

They need you to take the steps laid out on the People Before Banks coalition’s home page, focused on the plight of Bertha and William Garret.

Bertha and William Garret at home Monday. Photo by Terry Hall

The Bank of New York Mellon foreclosed on the couple after their daughter was laid off and William suffered a stroke, according to the coalition.

Now legally blind and disabled, William needs to stay in the single-story house.

This is not a simple story. Bank of New York Mellon, which got $3 billion in taxpayer bailout money, bought the house at a sheriff’s sale for $12,000.

Bank of New York Mellon negotiated with the Garrets, but not in good faith.

The bank told the Garrets it would sell them their house back for $12,000. The family scraped together the money. Once they had it, the bank boosted the price — in fact, doubled it, according to to $15,000.

This isn’t unusual behavior for Bank of New York. In October, federal and State of New York prosecutors sued the bank for defrauding clients out of $2 billion. The clients? Mostly public and private pension funds, including retirement funds for New York police officers, teachers and firefighters.

Protesters dwarfed by the DIME Building. Photo by Richard Etue

Nor is it surprising that the bank doesn’t want any publicity.

At midday Monday, demonstrators carried anti-foreclosure signs and held a banner in front of the DIME Building in downtown Detroit. Bank of New York Mellon’s offices are on the ninth floor.

A delegation of the Garrets’ supporters met with bank officials in the building’s outsized lobby.

Reportedly, the officials said BNY Mellon never held the mortgage but promised to find out who did. They said they would explain the couple’s status to a coalition attorney.

People Before Banks, Moratorium Now, Occupy Detroit, and community leaders want banks to get the message:

We’re not taking it anymore. Don’t stomp on people’s lives, don’t ignore their needs, don’t take away their homes.


Update 4:45 PM 1/31/2012

According to Steve Babson, activist with the People Before Banks coalition, the bank’s attorney called Bertha and William Garret’s daughter earlier today to work out a deal to keep the couple in their home.

“We have the first steps in the right direction,” Babson said. “We have the bank’s attention.”

Babson said he has no specifics on the arrangement so far, but the family is happy.  The 5 pm rally at the Garrets’ house is ON.

“We’re not declaring victory,” Babson said. “The message is to keep vigilant.”  


Update: 4:00 PM 1/31/2012 

According to Steve Babson, Early reports indicate Bertha and William Garrets now have a deal that will let them stay in their home, but nothing’s in writing. The 5 pm rally at the Garrets’ house is ON.

Until the deal is certain, the Garrets still could be evicted at any time this week. We need everyone there to support this family and their closely knit neighbors.

Videos below: Interviews with Garrets’ neighbors and William Garret; Bertha Garret at the DIME Building demonstration.