Nine protesters affiliated with the Occupy Wall Street movement were arrested on Thursday afternoon after they interrupted a foreclosure action at Brooklyn Supreme Court to protest housing inequities.
Around 15 people with the group Organizing for Occupation stormed into the Adams Street courthouse, singing, clapping and halting the sales of three overdue mortgages.
“We’re in a big housing crisis,” said Eliot Tarver, an organizer with the group. “We wanted to make a statement by shutting down this auction, and to show people what was going on with this crisis.”
The auction was held up for roughly a half-hour, then canceled and rescheduled, as protesters repeatedly interrupted the sale.
“There’s no sign on the courtroom that says, ‘Barnum and Bailey,’ ” said a court officer who would only give his name as Joe. “You can’t walk into court, disrupting the proceedings, chanting and screaming and refuse to stop even after being asked.”
So nine were arrested, though all were later released on their own recognizance.
The circus-like courtroom antics had not been announced in advance, unlike a simultaneous rally that drew more than 80 people to Cadman Plaza for the first major protest in Brooklyn since the “Occupy Wall Street” movement began this summer.
Unlike that larger movement, this protest was specifically targeted at the housing crisis that has given Brooklyn one of the fourth-highest foreclosure rates in the state.
Critics of the Occupy Wall Street movement have repeatedly dismissed the movement’s claims as amorphous and vague, but the gripes aired at this rally were fairly specific.
For Mary Lee Ward, the simple demand is that she be allowed to stay in her home. The 82-year-old Bedford-Stuyvesant resident has been fighting the foreclosure of the home in which she has lived for more than 40 years.
The events of Thursday come as Brooklyn gears up for the first rally of Occupy Brooklyn, an offshoot of the Occupy Wall Street movement, which is planning to converge on Grand Army Plaza at 11 am on Saturday.
The group is not believed to be intending to physically occupy the space for more than a few hours, but some protesters have talked about finding a location in Brooklyn that would be suitable for a long-term takeover.