The Portland Solidarity Network supports two tenants as they make demands on their exploitative former property management company, and the video captures their moment of community power.
On Tuesday, January 20th, a group of almost forty people gathered around the corner from Aubrey’s former property management company, Fox Management. Though nervous as the crowd was growing, Aubrey was preparing to confront the manager that had closed the door on her former apartment. Local news Koin 6 was there to see why they were confronting their landlord, and how they were able to continue to live in a city that is becoming more and more unaffordable for renters. Aubrey and her mother Becky had dealt with disrepair, both on their plumbing and their refrigerator, for years. With raw sewage coming into their apartment, spoiled food, and radically high rents, they were reaching a breaking point. It was at this point that their negligent landlord gave them a no-cause eviction.
Aubrey started by speaking out about her treatment, which now left her and her mother with no place to go after forcing them out of their home of eleven years.
"We've been there eleven and a half years, and we've never been late. We don't know what to do," she said. "Our apartment, they've got is listed for $925, which is almost $300 more than what we pay there. It's just ridiculous."
Her mother, Becky, elaborated on her fears of leaving.
"It's hard out there to even find a place to move to. It's scarey thinking that you might be out on the street."
The crowd marched directly into the office, where staff immediately asked them to leave. Determined, they went up the stairs and into the office where they knew their relevant property manager would be. Instead of hearing what Aubrey had to say, she slammed the door shut and refused to let them in. Instead, Aubrey read the letter out loud and shoved it under the door as one other distant staff person threatened to call the police.
"To Kallie Caito & Fox Management, Inc.:
It has come to our attention that Aubrey and Becky Kirk, 11-year tenants of Rose Tabor Court Apartments are owed $1600 in costs relating to habitability. We also demand that you drop the unfair fees of $437.50. Meet these demands by Tuesday, January 27th or we will take further action.
Do not contact Aubrey or Becky directly.
Contact Portland Solidarity Network when you are prepared to drop the fees and make the payment. We will pick up the check at your office.
Portland Solidarity Network"
The collective chants and claps of the community drowned this out, as the force of solidarity had a much stronger presence in that building.
Afterwards, Aubrey fought back tears as she thanked all the supporters who had come out, and who had raised their voices in protest.
This was only the first step in a campaign that has a growing set of escalations in front of it. They will need the community to continue to come out, challenging the authority of a property management company that has essentially taken away Aubrey’s home. This is the regular battle that is taking place in this city, where normal working-class people are fighting just for a right to live in the place they have called home for so long. Without a movement that stands up from the ranks of the city’s tenants, we will never be able to keep this city our own. As the waves of gentrification and development flush the long-time residents of Portland further and further out, we have to depend on the organized support of the community to fight back.
The day of the demand delivery, they had an eviction notice taped to their door. They will be appearing in court at 9:00 AM on January 27th to hear more about this eviction, which is the exact day that the Portland Solidarity Network has noted they expect a response from the property management company. If not, then the campaign will begin to escalate, and will not end until the entire list of demands has been met.
Solidarity to Becky and
Solidarity to Becky and Aubrey.
Just a few comments. Of course everybody has different ways to do an action. We would have done this differently. I am very sure that we would have not left there so quickly and not without a long hard talk with those in charge. In other words, we find it useful to be not so polite.
The other things which might look different is the talk before the action. Of course I don't know what happened before this. Normally, we talk out what we should do before hand. When we go, if there are new people, we aren't so keen to give instructions like were shown on the film because we think it is important that people do not think there is some leader of the action to follow, but that they make decisions themselves. So if there were new people, we'd probably talk a few minutes about what was discussed earlier and quickly ask new people if they think it's a good idea, etc. There are occasions when we ask if everybody can do the action - because there are different situations and sometimes somebody is pregnant or has to be back to work or something and they don't want to go in, but volunteer to do stuff like stay outside with a banner and leaflets, or something like that.
Well, there are also debates about escalation tactics. We've often avoided them, just going for a hard action at the beginning and trying for immediate win. It works sometimes. Don't want to get too much into it on the internet, but it is also a question. I've discussed it with some other comrades. Some think that you are more likely to get cooperation if you are nicer at first. Maybe sometimes that's the case, but sometimes not.
The idea with the demand
The idea with the demand delivery is that it is a very short initial warning and show of strength. The time to be less polite comes after the deadline for them to give in to the demands has passed.
How did the media portray the situation? Is it a good idea to involve the media? Seattle Solidarity Network has generally tried to avoid media involvement. When they have become involved the coverage has often been quite negative:
(actually their overall sales certainly went down, not up)
Not that great. After a
Not that great. After a lengthy continuation of the campaign for several months after media attention died down (which it did very quickly) and the confirmation that workers there were actually now getting breaks, the campaign ended. I wouldn't call it much of a victory although our demands were basically met. The lady at the center of the fight was so stressed out by the media and right wing threats she decided to leave town.
I would have thought that the
I would have thought that the aim of media coverage would be to spread the idea that fighting back is possible, thus increasing class confidence possibly leading to the imitation of such tactics, such as the occupy meme. However, the way the media often portray it is that there are a few leaders orchestrating the whole thing and that everyone else is just passive. It also often leans on a moral side of the side of the story, e.g. they quote people describing the owner as greedy, etc.
As for spreading the tactic of demand letters and marching on bosses, this requires a lot of planning and coordination, so I doubt it would spread rapidly as a meme, independent of militants. I think the only beneficial use of the media would be for large scale struggles (i'm thinking of this one in particular http://seasol.net/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=107:not-just-mad-about-mold-anymore-organized-tenants-fight-back-against-cornell-a-associates&catid=1:recent), in order to threaten the brand image of the company.
Just looking at that article 888 posted, it got 2 shares on facebook so it hardly went viral. I think using independent media is much more effective in the vast majority of cases.
This is Kallie. Normally, I
This is Kallie. Normally, I wouldn't comment on this, but here I am.
I just wanted to point out that I'm more like everyone here than you'd think. I'm liberal, I've protested, my friends are members of activist entities, I've quit my job in the past to join AmeriCorps and move across the country, I've volunteered in hard-hit areas to help my fellow man. I've stood in solidarity with the people of New Orleans post-Katrina after snipers shot their friends/family, government failed them, they were being taken advantage of. I'm a renter, I'm a student, I'm compassionate, and I'm a justice seeker. And I'm offended while my professional reputation is smeared.
What frustrates me about this situation is that not a single person tried to contact myself or anyone at Fox Management to even attempt to get an answer. Legally, I can't give out information without someone's consent, but that's not the point. However, it negatively impacts your "fight" to commit criminal trespassing, intimidation, harassment, what is now slander/libel as the accusations from Rebecca and Aubrey are false. It's not just the company's name or the plaintiff's name, it's my personal name being thrown out there when all paperwork comes from the plaintiff. Not me.
To clear some things up:
We've managed the property since the end of August/early September. I've completed over 140 work orders at the property since then (you do the math), and I'm well-versed in habitability issues.
We require maintenance requests in writing. We have an online tenant portal, a maintenance email address, a computer kiosk in the office, a maintenance request form in the office and an on-site manager that sends me maintenance requests as received.
The information provided to you is incorrect. All of it.
I don't even know how it was determined that those dollar amounts are owed.
A business in the area chose to attack a neighboring business because they felt like it. Not okay.
Might I suggest asking for hard proof from people requesting help?
Might I suggest being positive and inquisitive prior to being ridiculously harsh and nonsensical?
Might I suggest not making threats in writing?
Might I suggest listening when people tell you not to enter a private area?
Also, a little more organization wouldn't help.
Don't go out into the world looking for a fight. Go looking for answers and proof.
It makes you almost as bad as the Westboro Baptist Church.
Just to be clear, the article
Just to be clear, the article you are talking about had around 1,500 shares, you are looking at a number that is consistently reset. We are not interested in spreading things as a meme, but uses community pressure as a movement. This is not an internet battle.
I was referring to liberal as
I was referring to liberal as a definition, not a political affiliation.
The fact is that "we" are not exploiting any tenants, so the battle is artificial.
You should be more concerned with utilitarianism.
If you don't care what our priorities are, don't tell us what they should be.
When the truth is obvious, there is no battle.
"As far as I have seen" is a dangerous statement when you're narrow-minded and have wool over your eyes.
I'm not saying tenants are not being exploited, but this is not an example of that.
Again, Westboro Baptist Church. Two peas in a pod.
I want to make it clear that
I want to make it clear that this is not the website for the Portland Solidarity Network, and instead a blog that covers housing related activism. We are not connected. So I'm not sure what argument you seem to be having here. You should instead be directing your issues at that organization.
Likewise, your opinions about tactics and values are meaningless here. I'm not sure why you think that this is an argument.
Eviction Free Zone wrote: We
Eviction Free Zone
Sure, but presumably you want to spread these sorts of actions to the wider class and the internet can help this.
I don't have any issues, just some thoughts on the media
Quote: I just wanted to point
If there was ever a more damning critique of liberalism...
Humanity will only be free
Humanity will only be free when the last do-gooding self congratulating liberal property manager is hung with the guts of the last slumlord.
That's a sacrifice the
That's a sacrifice the revolution will have to make.
I hope none of you have
I hope none of you have landlords. Oh, the hypocrisy.
You're kind of like the George Bush that claimed Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.
You're regurgitating a bunch of fake garbage and then disappearing behind some bullshit excuse.
It doesn't help your cause.
I get that you're not Portland Solidarity Network, but clearly no one else cared enough to comment elsewhere.
Also, you must refute the existence of a dictionary. Damn The Man printing those stupid books. They hold us all back! It's classism!
A new libcom crazy who's also
A new libcom crazy who's also a landlord being targeted by a solidarity network - Christmas has come early this year!
I have a landlord. Does that
I have a landlord. Does that mean I can't be a communist? If I buy a house does that qualify me?
I love Kallie's attempt
I love Kallie's attempt towards intellectual and class baiting. Just like a good bourgoise liberal.
Feel free to insult people on here with their language and political choices. I am a university professor, and clearly and well educated, and am publishing my second book this year. Do you really want to sit there and bait me with obscene comments about dictionaries? Are you superior for some reason? What I find even more offensive is that it is clear that this is an international website and you are trying to insult the grammar of people who clearly are not first-language English speakers.
I want you to think a second about where you find this. What do you think LibCom stands for? It certainly doesn't mean "property-right respecting liberals." You are the representative agent of a company that literally exploits tenants, through the process by which surplus profit is extracted from the renters. In that way, we will never be on your side in this. Don't tell people what helps their cause since you have zero experience in real organizing. Many of the people on this thread have run successful tenant organizing campaigns, so we have a pretty good idea of what "helps our cause."
As for ruining your professional reputation, you did that when you allowed an eviction of two low-income renters. That is fucking shameful no matter how you look at it, and we will NEVER feel differently about this.
And your comments about the Westboro Baptist Church are fucking obscene. They are preaching gendered/sexual identity hatred using archaic superstitions, and we are organizing in the working class to fight back for a say in our homes and workplaces. Yeah, that's the fucking same. I'm not sure why you think the target of tactics would ever be taken seriously when considering the choice of those tactics.
More importantly, you have something to say, say it to them. It sounds like people are awaiting your response, so don't spend your precious hours arguing on an internet forum. Go do what is right and give these people the money you stole from them. The money that they need much more desperately than your company.
Quote: And your comments
Yeah, and you know who else held demonstrations? The Nazis.
That makes you as bad as the Nazis.