By Olivia Gomez
The following is a guest article from United Neighborhood Defense Movement.
United Neighborhood Defense Movement (UNDM) chapters across the country kicked off December with a day of action against landlords and government officials. Actions also included agitating and speaking to tenants in working class neighborhoods calling on them to organize against enemies of working class tenants.
Despite a nationwide eviction moratorium landlords and government officials have continued to work together to evict tenants. The moratorium is an attempt by the ruling class to quell the anger of tenants who face mass evictions. The moratorium provides dead-end solutions and does not stop evictions from being carried out. Tenants that received rent relief have been cornered into signing contracts that locked them into paying back rent while their landlords are allowed to file evictions during the moratorium.
The CDC moratorium was extended until December 31, as the ruling class tries to postpone resistance to the mass evictions. While, there is speculation that President-elect Joe Biden will extend the moratorium imperialists can only sustain the extension for so long as landlords grow impatient and are moving forward with evictions.
In these conditions, UNDM fights to organize tenants against working class enemies making the following demands: ‘No Rent Without Work or Wages, Waive All Back Rent, and the Formation of Anti-Eviction Squads.’
In Pittsburgh, UNDM held a rally in front of the Magisterial District Court against Judge Kim Hoots who has a long history of evicting working-class tenants. Hoots recently ruled in favor of evicting a CP Development tenant. CP Development is a company owned and operated by racist slumlord Charles Patterson who has been aggressively gentrifying the Black working-class neighborhood of Wilkinsburg.
Activists gathered in front of the office to make signs and distribute stickers reading, “Defend Your Neighbors, Defend Your Blocks,” and “Kim Hoots Evicts Working Class Tenants.” After agitating outside her office activists marched to the home of Kelsey Patterson, the heiress of CP Development who has repeatedly harassed tenants and organizers. The march was led with a banner that read, “No Rent Without Work or Wages, Waive All Back Rent, Form Anti-Eviction Squads” as activists and supporters chanted, “No Rent Without Work or Wages!” and “Back off Landlords, back off cops! Defend your neighbors, defend your blocks,” as they rallied outside Patterson’s residence.
UNDM members and supporters spoke with Koreatown residents and taped up fliers denouncing the landlord lobby group Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles (AAGLA). AAGLA is a group of landlords who work closely with the police as well as local and state governments. They are an influential and well-funded advocacy group representing some of the most reactionary landlords in the city. Most recently, suing the City of Los Angeles for passing the eviction moratorium.
Since the start of the pandemic and the economic depression, AAGLA has increased their organizing efforts against tenants and especially against organized tenants who are on rent strike. Most recently and notably, Chris James in Lincoln Heights was given a 3-day ‘pay or quit’ notice by his landlord using an official AAGLA form. UNDM in Los Angeles, is launching a campaign against AAGLA and agitating that these landlords and their city council counterparts are enemies of working class tenants.
In San Marcos, UNDM reached out to working class tenants and advocated for tenants to organize against slum conditions and evictions. One man they met remarked his terrible living conditions and how they had been affecting his health but became hopeful when he learned of UNDM and their fight.
UNDM in Charlotte, dropped a banner over a highly trafficked highway overpass. The banner read, “Organize and Fight Back Against Evictions #UNDM.”
UNDM members stormed the office of Presidium Group, the company that owns many of the apartment complexes in Riverside that are currently on rent strike. Presidium Group is actively attempting to gentrify these complexes for their ‘Domain on Riverside Project.’ As the activists entered the building chanting, one activist gave a speech. The action interrupted employees including Executive Director Mike Piano. Plastic snakes and flyers were thrown on the ground with pictures of the conditions that tenants are forced to live in. The office called the police and the activists made it out without any arrests despite Piano and other workers tailing the demonstrators as they left.
As the eviction moratorium comes to an end, it is through organizing and militancy that working class tenants will defend their homes. UNDM has been on the front lines defending against evictions and organizing tenants against slum conditions. Rightfully taking aim at the landlords who neglect the property and try to squeeze every penny they can out of the tenants, while also agitating against the role that judges, police, and the government play in evicting tenants. As conditions worsen, the need to organize and defend working class neighborhoods is growing ever more important. UNDM has been doing the groundwork and calls on tenant organizations nationwide to stand in solidarity with UNDM on January 1, for their National Day of Action.
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