Take Back the Land: Direct action for the Earth should start at home…

14 May

Preferably a liberated home.

By Panagioti Tsolkas, Earth First! Journal

While Earth First! is most commonly associated with the direct action to defend of the wild from corporations and governments, the fight to liberate urban land (often from those same corporations and governments) is not to be dismissed. In fact, there is a case to be made that changing the way we view the immediate land we live on is a first and necessary step towards redefining our relationship to the living world around us. And if we are aiming to turn this whole ecocidal system on its head—as we must—then we would do well to pay close attention to the foreclosure crisis that is poised to implode industrial capitalism here in the US.

In this light, the group Take Back the Land is biocentric and deeply ecological at its core.

This case was made at this years Earth First! Winter Rendezvous at a workshop lead by co-founder of that group, Max Rameau. As powerful as his words were, action always speaks louder:

May 9, 2011: Take Back the Land- Rochester liberates home, moves Lennon back into house
By: Max Rameau (originally posted here.)

Catherine Lennon and Ryan AcuffCatherine Lennon, the Rochester, NY grandmother who was evicted from her home by a SWAT team , has been moved back into her home on Monday May 9, 2011 by Take Back the Land- Rochester.

After her husband died of cancer in 2008, the Lennon family fell behind on her mortgage.  Attempts to renegotiate the mortgage were stonewalled by Fannie Mae, Catherine Lennon made local and national news by defending her home from eviction for two weeks with help from neighbors and Take Back the Land- Rochester. While Fannie Mae refused to help Catherine Lennon, they gladly accepted over $90 billion in taxpayer bailout money through the TARP program.

On March 28, 2011, Rochester police executed the eviction with 2 dozen or so police and by arresting seven people, including a 70 year old neighbor still in her pajamas. Charges against those arrested are being dropped in exchange for 8 hours of community service. The Lennon-Griffin family of 11 has been dispersed with grandchildren living with friends and family and Catherine living in a local Motel.

After the eviction, Lennon was called the ‘Rosa Parks of the foreclosure crisis‘ for her heroic stand against the bank. Offers of assistance came from US Representative Louise Slaughter (NY-28), Senator Kirsten Gillabrand and Senator Chuck Schumer. Negotiations with Fannie Mae broke down after they made bad faith demands.

“We believe it is immoral for Fannie Mae to leave another home vacant in our community,” argued Ryan Acuff of Take Back the Land- Rochester, “while Catherine Lennon depletes her life savings staying in a motel. We must show at least as much mercy towards Catherine Lennon as we have towards Bank of America, Citibank and Fannie Mae.”

Police have not intervened thus far. Here is local media coverage: Democrat and Chronicle Article    Channel 8 News Rochester The New York Daily Record

For previous coverage of Take Back the Land in the Earth First! Journal, check out the following article:

Taking It Back in Miami By Max Rameau, and Miami’s Take Back the Land: Superbowl Week of Action By jhon luna, both published in 2007.

Activists with the Everglades Earth First! group even made a cameo in this video clip below (see if you can spot them!)

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One Response to “Take Back the Land: Direct action for the Earth should start at home…”

  1. Colin Donoghue November 4, 2012 at 8:35 pm #

    “…changing the way we view the immediate land we live on is a first and necessary step towards redefining our relationship to the living world around us.”
    Yes, we should view it as a free birthright of sovereign humans, so that our relationship with the land will not be corrupted (and made destructive) by monetary-slavery. Eviction-resistance is in that direction, and as you said “In this light, the group Take Back the Land is biocentric and deeply ecological at its core.” More on that here: colindonoghue.wordpress.com

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