In the suburbs of North Hollywood, vans from major news networks enveloped a phalanx of demonstrators protesting the recent deportation of Blanca Cardenas. The protest began at around 6 p.m. Tuesday, heavily organized by members of the Occupy LA movement — in particular, activists Cheryl Aichele and Carlos Marroquín — for Blanca Cárdenas, who was scooped up by police when she was found to be occupying her foreclosed home in North Hollywood.
Across the street from the protest was U.S. citizen and husband of Blanca, Gerardo Quiñones, who was left behind, along with their distressed 19-month-old daughter, Gloria.
Blanca, 39, had spent a good portion of her life in the United States falling in love with Gerardo and then recently raising their daughter in their home in North Hollywood. She was suddenly deported because Bank of America foreclosed their home without giving them much time to settle with the news. The new owners who bought the foreclosed home (representing record numbers of foreclosed homes being bought by third parties, peaking at 27.4% last September) found Gerardo and Blanca still inhabiting the home and called the police on them. Upon their arrest, the LAPD discovered that Blanca had no papers.
At one point, one of the protesters clad in dark sunglasses, a hood, and a bandana-veil, kicked down and broke through the holsters of the couples’ front door. The crowd began to roar before breaking into another chant led by Aichele, “Who’s house?! Blanca’s house!” Protestors began to sing Johnny Cash’s song, “I Shall Not Be Moved” while some of them began to post up small tents onto the grass of the front lawn.
Gerardo and many of the Occupy LA activists feel that Blanca should never have been arrested. They are part of a foreclosure epidemic that has spread across the U.S. by many of the national banks — especially in California where 1 in 5 of all foreclosures take place — many of these foreclosures are pegged by attorneys as illegally prosecuted. Some of that includes something called “robo-signing”, an exercise where bank personnel signs affidavits that were untrue, or without verifying the information contained in said documents, even sometimes not based on the signor’s actual knowledge.
In fact, the Superior Court of Los Angeles is suing Bank of America to the tune of $500 million based on a stock pile of cases where homes appeared to be foreclosed illegally by the company. Consequently, in the middle of the demonstrations, Marroquín pleaded to anyone with open ears to withdraw all of their money from Bank of America, to show their displeasure with the company’s actions. Another protestor, Aichele, recently went with other Occupy LA activists to meet with Wells Fargo representatives and demand they freeze foreclosures that have destroyed many families just like Blanca’s.
Later in the evening, Marroquín relayed threats by the police that anyone on the house property would be promptly arrested. By 7:30 p.m., with a line of police standing by, virtually everyone was dispersed from the premises and the chants began to fade, much like Blanca’s story will. Gerardo, however, stuck around a little longer giving his last interviews, trying to remain cautiously optimistic, in front of a place they had always called home.
Paul Adams is a writer who lives in Los Angeles, follow him on Twitter @Yustomovic.[Photo By ubrayj02]