More than three dozen activists attempted to prevent a court-ordered eviction in Washington D.C. this morning before being forcefully removed from the property by U.S. Marshals. The activists, who are affiliated with Occupy Our Homes DC, were attempting to stave off the eviction on behalf Dawn Butler, a D.C. resident who has lived at her home for more than six years.
Activists assembled outside the home around 8 a.m.; D.C. Metro Police and U.S. Marshals arrived shortly thereafter. Metro Police warned protesters that they would be subject to arrest after multiple warnings if they didn’t leave the property. Less than an hour later, a half-dozen U.S. Marshals walked to where the protesters were sitting and announced that they would carry out the eviction. When protesters sitting on the home’s front walkway refused to leave, the Marshals began forcefully removing them, dragging some across the sidewalk and others down the front stairs.
After nearly a half-hour, the Marshals reached the front door of the home, where multiple activists tied themselves to milk crates and the door to prevent entry. The Marshals, again using brute force, yanked the protesters away, ripping half of the home’s front door away with them. Marshals tossed one protester over the side of the home’s front porch, sending him sprawling onto his back in the neighbor’s yard and prompting shouts of, “Shame! Shame!” from the activists. Watch it:
At that point, an eviction crew entered the home and removed all of Butler’s belongings, stacking them on the sidewalk. Activists planned to use a moving truck to take Butler’s possessions to storage.
The home went into foreclosure more than two years ago, and Butler, who rents the home, was facing eviction from JP Morgan Chase. Butler challenged the eviction on the grounds that she was denied her right to first refusal when she and her mother attempted to buy the home in 2010. Both Butlers said they received no response from JP Morgan when they submitted a bid for the home.
The court granted Butler a stay from eviction on April 2, but issued an order for eviction Monday. Butler returned to court this morning seeking another stay.
“They’re taking homes just for no reason. They haven’t given us a reason,” Butler said today. “It’s hell. Hell on earth.”
“In this case, the court ruled that the lease was not valid,” JP Morgan Chase said in an official statement. “The tenant had no legal right to remain in the property.”