A far cry from the raucous civil disobedience housing occupations more than a year ago in Berlin, California’s 2 moms + kids illegal occupation of an empty housing investment property ended yesterday, as it inevitably had to.
A protest with a peaceable manner, it fell between two stools.
On one hand, Illegal or not, it failed any belligerence tests necessary to rattle the civic government cage. (By contrast, Berlin’s illegal occupations1 protesting unaffordable rents contributed to an upcoming 5 year rent freeze in that city.)
On the other hand, the two moms’ supporters spent needless energy confronting an American corporation peacefully going about its lawful business of making juicy profits from renovating/flipping housing properties.
We wholeheartedly sympathize with the occupiers and their plight, and with protests against the forces that have created, maintained and deepened California’s unaffordable housing crisis. But the protest target was wrong.
It is government that has the power to curb the commodification of housing, which holds properties empty at the convenience of investors who have virtually no interest in the importance of housing as shelter.
There are many legal ways to curb investor appetite and behaviour2, but they require qovernment with backbone to challenge the Gods of the Free Market that have America in their thrall.
Protest movements should aim at motivating governments to develop legislative backbone. With civic responsibility low or missing from corporate game plans these days, shaming free market entities to curb their behaviour isn’t going to cut it. Note also that corporations lobby to represent their interests by addressing governments, not homeless people. Protesters, take a leaf from that book!
Read more on this story at NBC News: Homeless moms evicted after long fight to live in vacant California home
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