Occupy Our Homes engaged in a dramatic faceoff this morning with US Marshals and local police in northeast Washington D.C., less than a mile from the US Capitol building. About thirty Occupiers arrived at the home of Dawn Butler around 8 am, in the 900 block of Maryland Ave NE, to block a looming eviction—and what followed left one Occupier and one US Marshal in the hospital.
Butler doesn’t own the home, but has rented it since 2006. Her landlord fell behind on her mortgage payments while sick with cancer, and the property was foreclosed on—but D.C. law says tenants have the first right of purchase on a home where the landlord loses the title. Butler claims she has repeatedly tried to buy the home but has been repeatedly ignored or thwarted by JP Morgan Chase and a local foreclosure firm.
An eviction notice came last night, and this morning the protesters showed up to help. They constructed a barrier of plastic milk crates at the front door of the property, barred the front gates and sat down in protest along the front steps.
Heavily armed US Marshals, however, made quick work of the protester’s blockade. They forcibly removed both men and women, often picking them up by the head or neck. One Occupier suffered what appeared to be a serious concussion and was unconscious on the ground for several minutes and later taken to Howard University Hospital in an ambulance.
Once the steps were cleared, the Marshals ripped down the milk crates and the front door of the house along with it, while simultaneously battling the protesters. Here’s some brief video I shot from the sidewalk and adjoining front lawn:
One Marshal, shown briefly in the video, had a bloodied face from the falling crates and door debris. One protester was briefly handcuffed and then released.
After the fracas, movers, guarded by Marshals, emptied the contents of the house onto the curb, where it was later picked up by a moving truck and held for Butler. There’s no word yet as to Butler’s legal situation—she was in court this morning as the protest was going on, while her mother stood watch over the confrontation.