By Steven Rosenfeld
Four generations of a Georgia family were evicted at gunpoint by dozens of sheriffs and deputies at 3am last week in an Atlanta suburb. The eyebrow-raising eviction, a foreclosure action, might have been another anonymous descent into poverty were it not for Occupy Atlanta activists who tried to help the family stay in Christine Frazer’s home of 18 years.
The eviction came as Frazer, 63, who lost her husband and then job in 2009, had been challenging the foreclosure in county and federal courts by seeking to restructure the terms of a delinquent mortgage. However, the latest holder of her loan, Investors One Corporation—the fourth company that bought her mortgage in an eight-month period—allowed the eviction to proceed even thought it was “negotiating” new loan terms with her attorney one day before the police raid.
DeKalb County Sheriff Thomas Brown told an Atlanta talk radio show a day after the raid that a dozen squad cars and dozens of deputies were needed for the dead-of-night raid because Occupy Atlanta had set up tents on Frazer’s property, and his perception of the Occupy activists in other cities led him to believe they could be armed. He also said he timed the eviction to avoid media coverage.
“I made the decision that we were going to do this at 3am for a couple of reasons,” he told WAOK’s Derrick Boazman. “Number one, I have seen the various Occupy groups in various cities operate before. It was an ugly scene in Oakland. I have seen them firsthand in Washington. I’ve seen them on Wall Street. I’ve seen them in Atlanta.”
“I will not participate in a mass demonstration arrest with television cameras when I am not sure I can trust the people who say they will offer passive resistance,” Brown said. “Our intelligence told us that there were at least 10 Occupy Atlanta folks there on the property; that turned out not to be the case. Our intelligence told us that the family had vacated the house; that turned out not to be the case… We made the decision to have enough resources there to make sure it would not get out of hand.”
But out-of-hand does not even approach how Christine Frazer described the raid, saying in the days since the eviction she and her family, including her 85-year-old mother, daughter and 3-year-old grandson, have been split up and forced to rely on charity. Frazer also described how she had been exploring every legal avenue to refinance her debt, but the lenders had no intention of doing anything but evict her, presumably to sell the home.
“It has been really unsettling,” Frazer said. “When something like this happens, it breaks up the family. Me and my mom are staying one place. My grandson is someplace. My daughter is staying someplace else. It just feels really strange. I have lived in that home for 18 years. That is where I am used to waking up every morning. It’s just… I am grateful that I am not under a bridge, but I miss home.”
Frazer said that she did not expect the sudden eviction, because she had been challenging the foreclosure in federal court and her attorney had been negotiating with the lenders.
“No, I didn’t, because I currently have a case in federal court for a wrongful foreclosure,” she said. “And also the opposing or foreclosing attorney was in a negotiation process with my attorney. As a matter of fact, that Monday, I talked with them and they had talked about possibly reinstating the loan. But, of course, I was concerned about the principle [amount]. And they previously said they were looking for the eviction. It happened the next morning at 3am.”
Frazer’s descent in home loan hell had been going on for months, she said, but nothing in that arduous effort prepared her for being awakened and evicted at gunpoint.