Marsha Godard, a community leader and board member of Action Now, was arrested today after her attempts to notify Bank of America headquarter of potential vacant lot violations. BofA refused to accept the neighborhood complaints in which Godard refused to leave until they did – instead they called the police and hauled her off to jail.
Godard was released Tuesday evening but vows to return Wednesday morning to close her account and continue putting pressure on the bank.
Action Now, an advocacy organization on Chicago’s southside in the Englewood neighborhood, pushed for legislation requiring banks maintain vacant property they’ve foreclosed on. Englewood and West Englewood neighborhoods have been especially hit hard during the economic downturn. The legislation successfully passed the city council near the end of last month and goes into effect beginning in September.
As a result of city council action on July 28, 2011, banks are now required to maintain the 20,000+ vacant properties in the city of Chicago that are destroying neighborhoods and property values as a result of foreclosure. In recent weeks, vacant properties have been the scene of thefts, shootings, rapes and drug deals.
Over the weekend an Action Now organizer happened across a fire in a vacant building in the neighborhood. The alert organizer called 911 allowing firefighters to put out the blaze. Unfortunately during the struggle to douse the flames two firefighters were injured.
Two firefighters suffered injuries in the fire, with one of them expected to be hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries and the other expected to be treated and released at the scene, he said. The injuries were at least partly heat-related, Curtis said.
A vacant lot that next month is by law the responsibility of the bank that owns it – a novel idea – leads to the injury of two emergency responders. Godard and her organization are trying to take care of their neighborhoods and wanted to alert the bank of potential violations ahead of schedule. Instead they arrest it and refuse to take note.
According to Action Now:
This was not a planned civil disobedience action. We had no intention of taking arrests. In fact, we thought we had gone out of our way to do Bank of America a favor by doing the research for them on code violations.
As a result, Godard and other Action Now activists will protest the downtown location of Bank of America the rest of the week. Member of the organization will be closing their accounts and asking others to do the same.
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