ANAHEIM, CA—Homeowners frustrated at being denied a meeting with California Attorney General Kamala Harris for over four years attended this weekend’s California Democrats State Convention at the Anaheim Convention Center. Harris, who is running for the Senate seat that will be vacated upon Barbara Boxer’s retirement at the end of 2016, was scheduled to deliver a stump speech to the LA County Young Democrats in the Grand Plaza on Saturday afternoon.
Some of the foreclosure victims at Saturday’s protest were present for the much-heralded May 2011 launch of the Mortgage Fraud Strike Force. At that press conference, after identifying themselves as homeowner stakeholders, the foreclosure fighters were directed to a side room that Harris never addressed.
Thus began a years-long pattern of homeowner advocates requesting, but being denied, a meeting with California’s top law enforcement official. In May 2013, Occupy Fights Foreclosures wrote an open letter to AG Harris inquiring why no banks have been taken to trial in the aftermath of the financial crisis. Homeowners who traveled to her office were denied entry to the building. Not only has Kamala Harris repeatedly refused to meet with homeowner victims of fraudclosure, she has refused to delegate a member of her staff to do so.
At Saturday’s convention, advocates unfurled banners bearing the messages “$18 Billion Settlement Is Not Justice” and “Kamala Harris $ Sold Out Homeowners $ Protected Wall Street $.” Dozens of curious Democrats approached to ask for more information about the messages on the signs.
Attorney General Harris takes credit for fighting for homeowners to obtain the $26 billion dollar National Mortgage Settlement of 2012, which let the banksters at Ally/GMAC, Bank of America, Citi, JPMorgan Chase, and Wells Fargo off the hook for their crimes for pennies on the dollar. The foreclosure crisis cost California at least $650 billion, offset by a mere $18 billion of relief to struggling state homeowners via the National Mortgage Settlement.
Short sales comprise over half the $18 billion settlement. Short sales are still a devastating loss to individual families, who lose their home and often their entire life savings, which were invested as equity in their home. As for the 200,000 Californians who had been foreclosed on at the time of the settlement, they were entitled to $1,400 cash payments under the terms of the National Mortgage Settlement, as compensation for having their homes and life savings stolen by financial criminals.
A cardboard sign at the convention summarized the situation: “$650 Billion Stolen; Only 18 Billion ‘Repaid.’ Who Says Crime Doesn't Pay? Bankers Have It Made!”
Occupy Fights Foreclosures founding member Carlos Marroquin waved colorful placards with the messages “Harris Failed Families” and “Zero Bank Prosecution Kamala” as he walked among the convention crowd.
When former Speaker of the California State Assembly John Pérez appeared in the Grand Plaza of the Anaheim Convention Center, Marroquin approached him to inquire, “What do you think about Kamala Harris and the ongoing foreclosure crisis?”
“It's been over,” retorted Pérez as he disappeared back into the convention center, flanked by security in sunglasses.
Contrary to the statements of politicians, the foreclosure crisis is on-going, and banks continue to take people’s home by fraud. Kamala Harris protected the banks from criminal prosecution for their crimes by orchestrating a sweetheart deal of a settlement. Her Mortgage Fraud Strike Force was branded the “Strike Force That Never Struck” when a May 2014 East Bay Express investigation revealed that three years of prosecutorial inaction have allowed an industry of mortgage fraud to flourish in California. A bright orange poster at the convention decried her farce of a task force: “Task Force? Task Fail! Criminal Bankers Should Be In Jail!”
When Kamala took the stage Saturday afternoon, a chant immediately began: “Sold out! Sold out! Sold out the homeowners! Sold out the homeowners! Took money from Wall Street!”
One convention attendee attempted to physically move the protestor, but security intervened to allow the free speech to continue unabated.
“People are losing their homes! People are still losing their home, Kamala!” the protestor chided, before asking, “What happened to the money? What happened to the money, Kamala?”
One more conventioneer appeared from the audience to authoritatively request, “Can you let her speak?”
“No!” came the reply. Another voice joined in, “We want our homes! We lost our homes!”
“They took our homes! We’re losing our homes!”
“She does not care about the people! She’s not here for the people! Kamala Harris sold out: Eighteen billion dollars is not justice!”
“You don’t want to talk to homeowners!”
“Kamala Harris sold out! Mortgage settlements are not justice!”
Unable to gain any momentum in her speech, Kamala Harris concluded in two minutes. Members of Occupy Fights Foreclosures were thrilled to have finally expressed their grievances within hearing range of their elected official.
As Harris was escorted from the fenced-in Grand Plaza stage back to the safety of the Anaheim Convention Center, a clear and steady voice from the crowd observed, “Kamala Harris, people are still losing their homes.”
“People are still losing their homes, Kamala Harris. What are you doing to do about that?” he inquired. “Are you going to prosecute Wells Fargo?”
“The foreclosure crisis is going on!” interjected a female voice.
“It’s not over! There are 10,000 people right now in California losing their homes.”
“Mortgage settlements are not justice!” declared the woman, as an LA County Young Democrat in a navy blue suit held two campaign signs to block the crowd’s view of candidate Harris.
“Don’t fail the people like you have been doing!” came the final plea, as Senate candidate Kamala Harris walked away from her constituents.
Kamala Harris Speech California Democrats State Convention (5-16-2015) [2:05 video length] https://youtu.be/JK0MRHZ1Roo?list=PLL2fzNcE0xdFrAqbtJcoStiCx0C8XZqvV
Occupy Fights Foreclosures Questions Kamala Harris at CA Democrats State Convention [0:24 video length] http://youtu.be/vyIdzUDdkac?list=PLL2fzNcE0xdFrAqbtJcoStiCx0C8XZqvV
Why Protest Kamala Harris at CA Democrats State Convention [1:26 video length] https://youtu.be/EjmH0dA27rE?list=PLL2fzNcE0xdFrAqbtJcoStiCx0C8XZqvV
Kamala Harris 5/16/15 [speech is at 2:38 mark in this 4:37 minute long video] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GoIgPsn25bE
Homeowners Occupy Kamala Harris at the Democratic Convention https://www.facebook.com/carlosthemailman/media_set?set=a.948057245246292.100001260766273
“Considering Kamala Harris to Represent California Citizens” Occupy Fights Foreclosures, January 15, 2015. http://www.occupyfightsforeclosures.org/considering_kamala_harris_to_represent_california_citizens
[Press Release] Homeowners and Occupy Fights Foreclosures Ask Attorney General Harris, "How Many Banks Have You Brought To Trial?" Occupy Fights Foreclosures, May 23, 2013. http://www.occupyfightsforeclosures.org/pr_homeowners_and_occupy_fights_foreclosures_asks_attorney_general_harris
“The Strike Force That Never Struck.” East Bay Express, May 29, 2014. http://www.eastbayexpress.com/oakland/the-strike-force-that-never-struck/Content?oid=3933743&showFullText=true