An eviction notice for Tom Dart

October 15, 2010

CHICAGO--Protesters from the Chicago Anti-Eviction Campaign gathered in Daley Plaza to rally before delivering an "eviction notice" to Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart on October 14.

Approximately 25 activists surrounded the six-foot tall eviction notice written for Dart, explaining that it gives him a five-day window to declare a moratorium on all economically motivated foreclosures and evictions in Cook County. Failure to follow through with a moratorium would be grounds, it said, for a lawful eviction from his position as sheriff.

The protesters raised the chant, "Housing is a right! We won't leave with out a fight!" as spectators stopped to listen and read the giant notice. The chants were followed by a formal press conference. Activist Holly Krig spoke on the public housing eviction crisis, while Jorge Ortiz addressed his personal experience with foreclosure and sub-prime mortgage fraud. I spoke on the banks' false promises of future refinancing and the desperate need for universal loan modifications.

Sheriff deputies told protesters that the media and only three representatives from the Campaign could go up to Dart's office to serve the eviction notice. With Dart's office as a backdrop, Toussant Losier, one of the three chosen to represent the Campaign, reiterated the urgent need for an immediate moratorium on all economically motivated foreclosures in front of the cameras.

Activists then entered the office and were told by Dart's secretary that the sheriff was unavailable, but that if they wanted to talk to Undersherriff Zelda Whittler, they could, as long as the media stayed out of the room. After much protest, citing the public's right to be addressed about the moratorium issue, the three representatives agreed to meet Whittler behind closed doors.

During a 45-minute meeting, the Whittler said that Dart had a sworn duty to uphold the wishes of the courts. Anti-Eviction Campaign protesters quickly countered that the Sheriff does not have a duty to uphold unlawful orders or defend fraudulent banking practices that force thousands of families into the street each month.

Dart's representatives responded with the claim that the sheriff does not have access to the paperwork that could help decide, one way or another, if these orders were lawful or not, and that Dart's office could only address cases on an individual basis. Instead, Anti-Eviction Campaign activists were told to target the judges who are ordering the foreclosures and evictions.

Frustrated with the lack of accountability and integrity of Dart's representatives, the Anti-Eviction Campaign left--promising to return if a moratorium was not declared within five days.

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