Lawyers and Activists Arrested in Brooklyn Courtroom While Stopping Foreclosures with Song (VIDEO)

Updated below: the singers have been released.

Organizing for Occupation co-sponsored the first Occupy Wall Street action in Brooklyn today, and it didn't disappoint in terms of adding some Brooklyn flair to the once Manhattan bound scene. About a hundred people rallied outside Brooklyn Supreme Court, while inside activists brought the foreclosure proceedings against three homes to a grinding halt by singing an original spiritual composed for the ocassion, "Mr. Auctioneer."

Eventually, court guards threatened everyone in the public gallery (including us and all members of the media) with arrest if we didn't vacate the the public courtroom's public proceedings. Approximately 15 people were arrested, including Common Law attorney Karen Gargamelli, who can be seen in above video continuing to sing as she is led away in plastic handcuffs.

The scene began calmly enough. Michael Strohm, a key figure linking O4O and Occupy Wall Street, arrived at the appointed time the rally was supposed to start, with only a few people in tow. Although there were ample police and barricades in place, Brooklyn Borough Plaza had a lazy feel to it, with drizzle in the air and the farmers' market going on as scheduled. Srohm told us that, due to an emergency legal meeting to deal with what appears to be an imminent, de-facto eviction from Zuccotti Plaza, he wasn't expecting too many people trekking over from Manhattan.

Lacking a sound permit, Strohm's megaphone was quickly banned by the cops, and people began giving their testimonials using Occupy Wall Street's now signature call-and-response human microphone. Then Reverend Billy, a man whose unorthodox political/religious/performance art career has been waiting for just such times as these, took the "stage." Calling for a "Revalujah!," he didn't need any microphone.

RevBilly.jpg
Steven Thrasher

Rev. Billy tried to whip the crowd up into hysteria, telling them that the foreclosure of homes began in banal court proceedings, like the ones going on right inside. Then, Frank Morales of O4O got up to speak, in place of 82-year-old Mary Lee Ward, who was late.

FrankMorales.jpg
Steven Thrasher
Morales said that, though negotiations are reportedly on-going between Ward, the man who bought her house, the bank who sold it to him, and the state Attorney General's office, Ms. Ward is still facing eviction. Last Tuesday, the day before a planned meeting of these parties, the current "alleged" landlord served Ms. Ward with another eviction notice, breaking the lock on her front door to get in and post it. Morales called for a renewed effort towards Ms. Ward's "eviction patrol."

Meanwhile, the proceedings inside the courtroom turned out not to be so banal after. Before the foreclosure hearings of the three buildings could even start (which our Michelle Anderson profiled earlier today), a group of activists stopped everything, in song.

By the time we got inside room 227, a public courtroom where any member of the public can observe or bid to buy homes in foreclosure, several activists had been ejected for singing. But inside, there were about 10 people still belting out an original song they'd composed, "Mr. Auctioneer," at the top of their lungs. They were harmonizing beautifully, and the guards (who outnumbered them two to one) looked flummoxed and stunned as the music rang off the acoustically accommodating wooden walls. The judge was absent.

Eventually, the guards got a hold of themselves and decided this singing had to stop. They told everyone in the courtroom -- including members of the public and the news media, sitting in the public gallery -- that we would be arrested if we didn't leave the courtroom.

As we left (while covertly shooting the above video), none of the singing protestors -- including Common Law attorneys Jay Kim and Karen Gargamelli, who have been instrumental in Ms. Ward's legal struggles -- were still singing cheerfully, plastic handcuffs around their wrists.

News spread quickly to the crowd outside, which had grown to about 100 people. Ms. Ward finally arrived. She thanked the crowd, and expressed her empathy, noting her 16 year foreclosure nightmare began at a proceeding just like this. She also told anyone who would listen that when her home was up for auction, there was a conflict of interest between the parties involved:

The crowd believed that they had staved off the foreclosures for at least one day. But after we were ejected from court, a man who says he goes to these auctions every Thursday to consider buying properties told our Michelle Anderson that court did reconvene, and that only one of the properties Anderson profiled, 1241 Flatbush Avenue, was sold.

Anderson is heading out to the address this evening to see if the the owners of New Bombay Masala Restaurant have gotten official word that the building they rent has been sold.

Update, 6:45: Lawyer Karen Gargamelli tells us they have been released. Nine people were arrested -- including her law partner Jay Kim, members of Reverend Billy's Choir, a member of the Catholic Workers, and two musicians who wrote the song -- and none were sent to Central Booking. They were held in the Supreme Court building, treated well, and were written up for disorderly conduct, for which they'll have to appear in court in January.

She added, "When you know the way foreclosures happen, you know a foreclosure auction like this should never happen. If we know that as lawyers, we have a duty to say something about this."

sthrasher@villagevoice.com | @steven_thrasher

manderson@villagevoice.com | @michellejourno

Related: Who's Getting Foreclosed on in Brooklyn Today? The Voice Finds Out
Defenders of Mary Ward, 82-Year-Old Facing Eviction, Join with Occupy Wall Street to Fight Foreclosures

For more New York news, go to Runnin' Scared


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2 comments
jlmealer
jlmealer

Technically, the US Taxpayer owns all foreclosed homes because all banks were bailed out whether they needed it or not and all assets thus go to the party providing the bail-out.

This MUST be a third party year. Politicians are owned by lobbyists and Fed Res and as such each time they have accepted bribe money, gifts, etc to pass a law, the law has become null and void due to corruption and malfeasance.

http://mealer2012.comMEALER2012Let's fix this mess before it's broken beyond repair. Independent and/or Constitution Party. but the name is JL MEALER.

 Anonymous
Anonymous

 ASIANS CAN ACTUALLY READ MINDS!!!!!!!!!!!!!! they can hear and see what your visually thinkingthis is the complete entire truth

the reason alot of asians have completely expressionless faces, only associate with asians and dont associate with non asians very much, and are very unfriendly in general is to avoid accidentally revealing that they can read minds, if all over a billion asians were to show facial expressions all the time just as much as non asians, associate with non asians much more, and be much more friendly and talkative, then alot of them might accidentally reveal that they can read minds by accidentally showing a facial expression or dirty look when someone thinks, or visually pictures something in their mind they dont like or find astonishing or funny because those people might see that and really wonder what that was that just happened there and see the connection, and if they were all to associate with non asians alot more there would be alot more people around for them to accidentally show facial expressions when those other people think things they dont like etc, so they only associate with asians so there wont be anyone around for them to see that and have any accidents happen in the first place

think about it, its not normal how alot of them act, and the entire way they act is all to hide their mind reading abilities, it makes perfect sense to do all of that to hide that they can read minds, because all of that is the perfect way to do it!every single asian on the planet is hiding their mind reading abilities, they will lie about having mind reading abilities forever!because they value hiding their mind reading abilities more then their own lives!thats why nobody knows about it!

try thinking, best yet visually picturing in your mind something something absolutely crazy as you possibly can when you are around asians, and try looking for asians who give people particular looks, especially dirty looks for what appears to be for completely no reason, that is them giving people looks when they hear and visually see someone thinking something they dont like, find funny or astonishingit still happens despite a large number of them having completely expressionless faces all the time, it would just happen alot more if none of them had completely expressionless faces all the time, its not uncommon!

i know this sounds crazy, impossible, and completely unbelievable, BUT IT ISNT CRAZY WHEN ITS TRUE

the reason you think this truly is crazy, impossible and unbelieveable is because our society has propagandized people into believing that nothing extra ordinary is real and that is really is impossible, and that its crazy to think that its true that people can read minds, all just to cover up that asians can read minds! who says that cant exist? the people who have mind reading abilities who are trying to cover it up!

you have to spread the message!!!the world has to know about this!!!!

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