Brooklyn Blockade Stops Eviction

A blockade by more than 200 people successfully halted the eviction of an 82-year-old woman in Bedford-Stuyvesant Aug. 19.

The demonstrators turned out to stop city marshals from putting Mary Lee Ward out of the Tompkins Avenue house where she has lived for 44 years. Ward had been unable to keep up payments on a predatory $82,000 subprime mortgage she took out in 1995. The debt eventually ballooned to $200,000 after being sold to several different banks. In 2008, her house was sold at a foreclosure auction for $345,000 to 768 Dean Inc., owned by Shammeem A. Chowdhury. In January 2010, a federal bankruptcy judge ordered Ward evicted, saying that the court could not review whether the foreclosure judgment was valid. 

After the protesters surrounded the house, Assemblymember Annette Robinson brokered a deal with Chowdhury to call off the marshals and let Ward stay in the house temporarily.

The situation is still unresolved, but state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman agreed to meet with Ward and Organizing for Occupation, the group that put together the blockade, on Sept. 13.