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Archive for the ‘Right to Return’ Category

Survivors Village joined forces today with recently evicted Occupy NOLA protestors to successfully disrupt a Sheriff’s sale of foreclosed properties.  Delaying the sale for two hours, the protestors chanted:

“This auction is illegal and immoral. It is a way to steal homes, redistribute wealth and prevent the right to return. The sale of blighted property is the city’s attempt to remove poor homeowners who have already suffered tremendously from economic and natural disaster. Blight has become an excuse to gentrify.  Charging poor homeowners outrageous fees in order to steal their homes is an underhanded way to keep people displaced. Stop capitalizing off of crisis! This process is corrupt! You are stealing homes! STOP NOW!”

The sale was scheduled to begin at noon.  At approximately 1:45 pm, after several potential buyers had already left, the police arrived and threatened the nonviolent protestors with arrest.  Before declaring that the remainder of their protest would be silent, the protestors announced their intention to physically defend any properties sold:  “We will be in court.  We will be in the streets.  We will be in the houses–defending them, boarding them up, and occupying them”

Protestors specifically identified two properties and successfully urged buyers not to purchase them.  The Fight Back Center, a long-time community center in the St. Bernard neighborhood in New Orleans’ 7th ward was slated to be auctioned at today’s sale despite city personnel having acknowledged that there were numerous legal problems with the process.  “This is community space and we will fight to keep it that way,” protestors declared.

Protestors also urged buyers not to purchase the home of an individual who had approached them to express thanks for what they were doing.  The individual’s home had been completely renovated, but the city refused his offer to pay the $575 fine that had been assessed, refusing to waive the thousands of dollars in fines that accrued daily since the home was declared blighted.  He was financially unable to pay these fees and thus faced loss of his home. Following the protestors’ declared intention to defend these properties, neither received a minimum bid and thus remained unsold.

Protestors also distributed flyers educating the crowd about the realities of the auction.  The flyers declared:

“This is an auction of stolen properties. When a property in New Orleans is declared ‘blighted’ it is because homeowners are unable to complete the necessary work on their properties to comply with the city’s codes. The city gives the homeowner a fine of $575 and orders the homeowner to finish renovation or demolition of the property within thirty days and pay the fine or face additional fees of up to $500 per day. When poor homeowners are charged thousands of dollars each week—money they would put into their homes if they had it—the city leaves them no choice but to go bankrupt or hand over their properties. This is state sanctioned theft under the guise of “recovery.”

The protestors’ disruption at the Sheriff’s sale occurred less than eight hours after Occupy NOLA was itself evicted from their encampment at Duncan Plaza.  Around 4 pm, Occupy NOLA was issued a temporary restraining order by U.S. District Judge Jay Zainey who said he was “not happy” that the city opted to clear the camp while a motion for a TRO was pending.

Today’s protest was also carried out in solidarity with a call from Occupy Wall Street, who declared December 6 a day of action on the foreclosure crisis.

View videos of today’s protest at:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0FYTocI1MGU&feature=youtu.be

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Sharon Jasper’s municipal trial is this coming Tuesday, September 14 at 3 pm in Municipal Court, Section D –727 S. Broad (near the intersection of Broad & Tulane).  We need to get as many people as we can to turn out in support of Ms. Jasper at the trial.  We are encouraging people to wear black or green shirts to the trial, and we also will have armbands there that supporters can wear.

To prepare for the trial, we will be meeting at St. Bernard Community Church at 3938  St. Bernard Ave at 4 pm this Saturday Sept 11 to make phone calls to remind people about the trial, as well as to make signs and armbands.

Click here for a flier that you can use to fill others in on the events leading to the charges against Ms. asper and to mobilize them to come out for her trial.

Finally, if you want to come to Tuesday’s hearing but need transportation OR you can provide transportation for someone else who needs it, please email us at communitiesrising@gmail.com

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Five years into our fight for the right to return to our neighborhoods we are not invisible and we will not be silent.

Therefore as the rest of the city of New Orleans focused on the disaster of August 29, 2005 as an event that happened and has passed, residents of public housing and supporters stood in an all day rain to protest the visit of President Obama to a neighborhood that has been purged of poor people, turned over to Warren Buffet and his investor friends, and is being promoted as the future of public housing around the country.

The struggle continues for the brave and resilient public housing residents and the many people who believe in social justice and are willing to fight regardless of the odds.

Special thanks to attorneys Tracie Washington, Davida Finger, and William “Bill” Quigley, for going way above and beyond the call of duty.  Also thanks to Willie J.R. Fleming, the crew from Chicago, and brother Kali Akuno, from the U. S. Human Rights Network.

Now the battle moves into the next phase which is to defend our sister Sharon Jasper.

  • Her voucher termination hearing is this Wednesday, September 1, 2010 at 10 am
  • Her trial in Municipal court is Tuesday, September 14, 2010

the struggle continues…

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Also see commentary and video

from Kali Akuno

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Community Rally to Educate President Obama

Sunday, August 29, 2010  — 11 am

Fight Back Community Center

3820 Alfred St., New Orleans, LA 70122

(across from the 3800 block of St. Bernard Ave.)

President Barack Obama is scheduled to visit the St. Bernard community TODAY at 3 pm to view the Columbia Parc development as part of events to commemorate the 5th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Survivors Village will host a community rally in the St. Bernard community starting at 11 am to highlight the exclusionary policies, retaliatory tactics, and outright lies of the Columbia Residential corporation and to educate President Obama about the ongoing struggle of the former St. Bernard residents to realize their human right to return to their homes and community.

“President Obama has to be exposed to the truth”, says former resident and Survivors Village member Kawana Jasper. “Columbia Parc received its contract through corruption, lied to the residents at every step of the development process, and is trying to intimidate the residents with false charges and threats.” Survivors Village member Stephanie Mingo says, “We will be heard. Obama promised that he would do right by the people of the Gulf Coast, and we intend to make him live up to that promise. If he continues to let Columbia Parc get away with their criminal and discriminatory behavior, then he will be doing no better than Bush”.

To ensure that the human rights of the St. Bernard residents are respected, protected, and fulfilled by the Obama administration, Survivors Village is demanding that any former resident wanting to live in Columbia Park should be admitted immediately and unconditionally; that the false charges against Sharon Jasper be dropped immediately and the threat to terminate her voucher be withdrawn; that the demand for more than 30,000 Section 8 vouchers be met immediately; and that the PETRA bill threatening to privatize public housing throughout the country be permanently withdrawn.

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Ms. Sharon’s hearing has been scheduled for:

Wednesday, August 11, 2010 at 4 pm

Municipal Court, Section D

Tulane & Broad

We need everyone to come out in support of Ms. Sharon and the right of all to protest nonviolently.

See Youtube video re: Ms. Sharon’s story and the attack on her civil right of protest and human right to housing here:

Sign on to petition and send letters to the relevant parties here

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Survivors Village will be protesting at the Columbia Parc rental office on Monday at noon to continue our pressure on Columbia Parc to unconditionally admit former residents of the St. Bernard Housing Development.

On Friday May 28, Survivors Village and supporters protested at the Columbia Parc rental office. In an attempt to intimidate residents and supporters, the response of Columbia Parc was to file false charges against one of the residents who participated in the protest. Sharon Jasper was arrested close to a week after the protest on a trumped up charge of battery because of the claim of a rental agent that she was pushed and injured by Ms. Jasper. No such claim was made on the day of the protest despite heavy police presence. Now Columbia has gotten a restraining order against Ms. Jasper to restrict her right to protest there.
We must respond strongly to this attempt to intimidate former residents and their supporters and to suppress protest.

Come out to stand up for justice and to stand against these tactics of intimidation and exclusion being used by Columbia Parc to attempt to silence and permanently displace residents.

The Columbia Parc rental office is located in the 3600 block of St. Bernard Ave. Join us there MONDAY AT NOON

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See video re: Ms. Sharon’s arrest  here.

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Sharon Jasper, member of Survivors Village and MayDay New Orleans, was arrested by the New Orleans police who brought four SWAT cars to apprehend this elder Black woman from her home.

Ms. Sharon is being charged with battery of a rental agent during an action organized by Survivors Village and MayDay New Orleans.

On Friday, May 28th, a group entered the Columbia Parc rental office and held a sit-in demanding the right of former St. Bernard Housing Project residents to return to their homes. Police say Ms. Sharon assaulted a Columbia Parc rental agent during her entrance into the building. The rental agent did not complain about an assault and continued to work in the office the entire time of the occupation, including when police arrived. While there, police made no mention of an assault when explaining to the group why they should end their protest.

See more about the protest, including pictures and video here

The truth is that the City of New Orleans did not arrest Sharon Jasper for assault; they arrested her because she dared to tell that truth and demand that public housing residents of New Orleans have the right to return to their homes. The arrest represents a clear effort by the City of New Orleans to represent the interests of the developers of the Columbia Parc while actively working against the former residents of New Orleans. We condemn this politically motivated use of the public police in order to protect private developers from protests.

The Columbia Parc development replaced the St. Bernard Housing Project after the City of New Orleans voted to demolish the 1,500 units of public housing and replace them with market housing. The action was part of the Right to Return Weekend in New Orleans as part of the Take Back the Land Movement May 2010 Month of Action


Survivors Village will be protesting in front of Columbia Parc on Monday, June 7, at 12:00noon. Columbia Parc is on the 3600 block of St. Bernard Ave. in New Orleans.

Survivors Village is asking supporters to call Columbia Parc and demand 1). drop all charges against Sharon Jasper and 2). allow for the unconditional return of former St. Bernard Housing residents. Columbia Parc: (504) 284-4769, columbiaparc.com.

Video of Sharon Jasper’s arrest, as well as updates on her legal situation, will be posted on this blog as they become available.

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Survivors Village and May Day NOLA cleaned out a Road Home property in the St. Bernard community today, announcing our intention to prepare the home as a step toward addressing high rates of homelessness and displacement. Among the supporters who joined us were members of Stand for Dignity.

See video of the action here.

Those participating in today’s action assert that all displaced and dispossessed residents –esp those forcibly relocated by the Federal Government after Hurricane Katrina–have the UNCONDITIONAL right of return to their homes and communities. Our objective is to make these rights real by sheltering residents in need in the many vacant properties being warehoused by the Road Home Program.

Among its many problems, the Road Home program completely ignored the majority of New Orleanians who were renters and now owns many vacant properties in a city with an affordable housing crisis. Survivors Village intends to do what the local, state and federal governments are not doing and that is making a real road home for the many New Orleanians who are still displaced, as well as the city’s growing homeless population.

The action today was the third and final day of our Right to Return Weekend which was organized to call attention to the human right to housing and to highlight the failure of local and national officials to address the fact that more than 1 out 4 New Orleanians are still displaced, that all but one public housing development have been demolished, and the city’s homeless population has ballooned to well over 20,000 people.  The Right of Return Weekend was organized in conjunction with the May month of actions called by Take Back the Land Movement (TBLM). TBLM is a network of autonomous organizations affiliated with the US Human Rights Network (USHRN) dedicated to realizing the human right to adequate housing and community control over land.

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