Drums and chants reverberated off the Fulton County Courthouse steps as nearly 200 Occupy Atlanta protestors — I'm going with CBS's estimate, because I'm incapable of estimating — gathered to disrupt a monthly foreclosure auction.
The noise drew a lady named Michelle to the rally. She joined in as the protestors began chanting, "Shame, shame, shame ..." and clipboard-wielding bankers and investors tried their best to continue selling and purchasing the discounted properties despite the melee. Incidentally, Michelle's home was foreclosed on this year. She started to cry as she described driving past the house she was forced to abandon after losing her job at Lowe's. "I was supposed to grow old in that house," she said. "My kids were supposed to inherit it. Now it's just sitting there with a 'For Sale' sign in the yard."
Civil rights icon Joseph Lowery was escorted up the courthouse steps and addressed the crowd. (Fulton County Sheriffs officers initially told Lowery's handlers he couldn't speak from the courthouse steps — he'd have to move onto the sidewalk — but were apparently convinced otherwise.) Speaking into a bullhorn's mouthpiece, Lowery said he was "saddened by the number of citizens suffering because of the economic crisis," and called for a six to nine month moratorium on bank foreclosures and evictions. "Banks are going to have to help poor people," Lowery said, "or we're not going to support them."
Robbie Baron, VP and owner of an Alpharetta cabinetry company, stood on the sidewalk outside the courthouse laughing and shaking his head. "This is ridiculous," he said. "What do they think happens if you don't pay your bills?"
Brown said his company has gone from 140 employees to 30 employees in four years, and that he lost $3 million in the same amount of time. Still, he doesn't sympathize with the Occupiers. Quite the opposite, in fact. "This is what's wrong with our country," he said. "There's nothing wrong with helping people, but if you're broke, don't go to Macy's and charge $5,000."
Of the occupiers, he said, "I guarantee if you went up to these people, half of them don't even have jobs or own homes. They're just here to cause problems."
And they did cause problems. Franzen wrote on his Facebook page about an hour ago, "We have totally disrupted the home auctions on the steps of the [Fulton] county courthouse. [S]imilar disruptions went down in gwinnett and dekalb. We give the gift of housing, happy holidays Atlanta!"
Occupy movements all over the country focused on the foreclosure crisis today, part of a national day of action. Occupy Atlanta is also moving into two area homes to prevent the residents from being evicted by their respective mortgage holders.
CL's photographer, the intrepid Joeff Davis, snapped plenty more pictures at today's courthouse demonstration. Check 'em out here.
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