Bank Threatens Sherrye Calhoun with Arrest
Article Orginally Posted: http://www.swarmatlanta.org/
Sherrye Calhoun has lived in her home for 30 years. After seeking help several years ago to keep making payments on her mortgage, she was swindled out of her home. She has been fighting to stay there ever since.
On the morning of Friday, August 3, Dekalb County Sherriff Brown’s deputies evicted Ms. Calhoun from her home, giving her enough time to grab her purse. Sheriff Brown is not new to evictions. He recently evicted Christine Frazer, 63, and her 85-year-old mother at gunpoint in an illegal 3 a.m. eviction.
Sherrye decided to keep fighting back. With the help of friends and neighbors, she moved all of her belongings back into her home. She has lived there since. But on Tuesday, October 23, she received a letter stating that Eric Bender has filed for an arrest warrant against her on the grounds of trespassing.
Who is Eric Bender, and what does he have to do with the house? What is the bank’s involvement?
When the deed to Sherrye’s home was fraudulently stolen from her by a con artist named James Martin, he took rent money from her on the promise that it was going toward buying her home back. He pocketed the money and let the home go into foreclosure (in his name). Fast forward a few years, and JP Morgan Chase bought the home on the courthouse steps for about the same $30,000 price that Sherrye and her brother paid back in 1982.
JP Morgan Chase quickly declared the home empty despite the fact that Sherrye was living in it–just one in a long line of symptoms of widespread corruption in their criminal bank, infamous for its role in contributing to the 2007 market crisis and for subsequently receiving bailouts from the government. (Where are the bailouts for those facing foreclosure, eviction, and even arrest?)
True to their corrupt and sinister corporate character, JP Morgan Chase has had nothing to do with the property itself. This is where Eric Bender comes in. Like the police and lawyers who work on behalf of the banks, he does the dirty work. Working as a real estate agent for Georgia Prudential–contracted in a messy tangle of groups that manage JP Chase’s assets for them–Bender has harassed Sherrye for more than a year, driving by in different cars, knocking on her door to tell her to leave, and offering her lies and empty promises in attempts to force her out of her home ahead of evicting her.
One such lie was his promise to have the home donated to charity. He had just one small condition: Sherrye would have to move out of the home for 9 months while it was being renovated. Then, if she could prove that she could afford the new, lofty price, she could move back in and pay the “charity” rent. Bender was only lying to get Sherrye out of the home, and it didn’t work.
It is worth noting that Bender “flipped” the house next to Sherrye’s and sold it for $250,000.
So that’s the story. An honest woman who has more than paid the $30,000 that she originally bought the home for in 1982 is now faced with arrest. This is what capitalism and government push people like Sherrye toward: they are branded criminals just for living in their own homes–for not having enough money to keep up with the mounting wave of gentrification and all of the crooks and liars riding it.
The real criminals are JP Morgan Chase, the police who enforce evictions, and crooks like Eric Bender who profit from other people’s misery and misfortune. When they break the law, they get bailed out and protected by the courts. The law is written to protect their misdeeds and to be selectively applied to those with less money–above all, to the working class. Their actions show that the law is stacked against honest people like Sherrye; the law is on the side of gentrification, which, in Atlanta, is pushing tens of thousands of working-class people–most of them African American–out into the suburbs so that richer, whiter people can move in to take their homes in the city. Atlanta is fast becoming a place where only those with the money can live.
We won’t give up without a fight. On Sunday, October 28 at 4pm, we will be launching an Eviction Defense Network in support of Sherrye and others like her. This network will belong to the people who use it to stop evictions in their areas. Only through collective struggle can we defeat the banks and their henchmen–and if we win, it will be because of those struggling on the ground, taking initiative in their communities to work together in the class war that is being waged against us.
Here are some events and ways for others to plug into the struggle around Sherrye’s home and the Eviction Defense Network that is developing out of it:
- Canvassing the Neighborhood
- “No More Evictions” Cookout
- Press Conference at Sherrye’s House
- Phoneblast Against Eric Bender
- Paying a Visit to Eric Bender
- Pack the Courtroom for Sherrye
As always, solidarity is our weapon. We encourage others to participate however they feel is best and to fight back against Eric Bender, JP Morgan Chase, and anyone else who plays an active role in perpetuating the everyday violence of eviction. If you and your friends carry out a solidarity action, please consider letting us know by email or by posting a reportback to http://atlanta.indymedia.org/.
SWARM is working with Sherrye along with a coalition of neighbors, friends, and allies. We would like to thank the folks in Occupy Our Homes Atlanta, Joe Beasley, our friends in the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, and everyone else who has been involved in this fight for your continued involvement and support. SWARM can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.