11 Reasons Occupy Wall Street Should Become Occupy Foreclosure

I was speaking with Brendan Loy the other day and he made the comment (I paraphrase):

Usually when you perform civil disobedience, the act you’re performing is in direct relation to the injustice you’re protesting. For example, Rosa Parks refusing to give up her seat on the bus was in direct defiance of an unjust law requiring her to do exactly that. With the Occupy protesters, they’re against corporate greed, so they’re camping in a park. I don’t get that.

And I think he’s right. There seems to be a very loose relationship between what the protesters say they want and their method of protesting.

Giving this some thought, I think there is an civil disobedience action the Occupiers can take that would make a great deal more sense. And that is occupying foreclosures.

Hear me out here… I’m not the most sympathetic toward the Occupy movement, but occupying foreclosures has the following benefits:

  1. Real shelter means fewer deaths (as long as they don’t do drugs).
  2. The action is directly related to the financial sector (although they would quickly discover that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are bigger culprits than Goldman Sachs).
  3. It would be genuinely disruptive to the financial sector. Don’t fool yourselves, sleeping in a park is more disruptive to a bagel shop than to a hedge fund manager.
  4. Far less impact on small businesses whose owners just want to make ends meet.
  5. They could actually get arrested for peaceful civil disobedience (trespassing) rather than for jaywalking or public indecency.
  6. Good optics if they keep the houses clean & leave when they are sold. Local news pieces would relate directly to real neighborhoods, get great pictures of people and the houses they occupy. People could go check out the movement without heading downtown… the movement is right down the street.
  7. Build excellent community standing (if they are actually good community members in these neighborhoods).
  8. A good platform for spreading their position. If people come to see the houses for purchase, they can pass out literature about the pitfalls of tricksy banks and dangerous mortgages.
  9. They can attach themselves closely to the individual stories of woe within the local community. Every foreclosure comes with a story. They could take advantage of that.
  10. If banks decided it would be better to sell foreclosures for a loss rather than risk an occupation, it might move inventory, actually help solve one of the problems.
  11. Filter out the antagonistic element from Occupy. I suspect anarchists are less interested in playing house with a half dozen people than with running down the streets smashing windows.
Of course any movement is only as good as the people who are involved with it. But this path seems more targeted, sustainable and sanitary. And it might just be the best place to go next for Occupy.
Would I support this? Meh. Probably not wholeheartedly. It is still against the law (but civil disobedience is, by definition, against the law). And I’m sure there are some unintended consequence that I’ve failed to consider (there always are).
But at least it would make some kind of sense.


  1. Greg says:

    I think you make some good points, but protesters would lose a lot of visibility this way. There would eventually be media coverage if there were a showdown, but that could take days or weeks. In the meantime, the occupiers would be your average freegan household. Subsisting without utilities and, in the best case scenario, leaving the house in a marginally better condition than they found it.

  2. Daniel B says:

    The downside to occupying foreclosures is the potential for adverse possession. Banks tend to want to retain ownership of their assets.

    At least keeping them all in one park makes it easier for law enforcement to manage and keep the peace (thought I wonder how long the movement would last when the protesters are spread out in many foreclosed homes rather than gather and feeding off each other’s energy).

  3. […] There’s also this. Because make yourselves useful already. […]

  4. […] update: A sympathetic argument for the logic of an Occupy Foreclosure movement, from the always interesting Matthias […]

  5. Mueller says:

    And I’m sure there are some unintended consequence that I’ve failed to consider (there always are).

    Depriving the rightful owners of the use of their property come to mind. Unless, of course, you don’t view private property as a right.
    Then it’s a win-win!

  6. […] wonderful Political Math blog lays out an intriguing proposition (excerpts): There seems to be a very loose relationship between […]

  7. […] wonderful Political Math blog lays out an intriguing proposition (excerpts): There seems to be a very loose relationship between […]

  8. brian says:

    @Mueller – well, that’s the thing – the Occupy dolts don’t believe in private property at all.

    So occupying foreclosures is as far from their goals as occupying Zucotti Park.

    Their goal is, as #11 states, to run down streets and smash windows. The non-antagonistic members of the movement are the follow-ons, not the core.

    The core’s goal has always been wanton destruction. They hate existence.

  9. TimeLady8 says:

    Considering their track record thus far, Occupiers would turn foreclosed houses into condemned houses in nothing flat.

  10. jake mckenzie says:

    Salient points, I agree completely.

  11. James Stuart says:

    Quit being such a tool Brian, saying that they hate existence just tells me that you’re slinging around man-child insults.

    The fact is that the houses aren’t being used and if they want to have a stronger message its better to be arrested over that. Plus now they have places to act as the base of their operations and can leave the houses during the day to protest and return at night. Its going to be an interesting development for the movement.

  12. Ed Bradford says:

    I recommended the OccupyWallStreet movement change
    its name to ExposeWallStreet. A similar OccupyTheSEC movement
    should change its name to ExposeTheSEC (Securities Exchange Commission).
    Publish all information that can be gathered from these organizations no
    matter the source. These would be a “WikiLeaks” for giant organizations —
    afterall, do giant corporations or governments have a right to privacy?

    The intent is to shower sunlight on the workings of these giant
    secretive organizations.

    I also agree with you; your idea has lots of merit and punch.

  13. […] Math:  Occupy Wall Street should be Occupy Foreclosed Homes.  Point 6 would never, happen, though:  these are people who obviously have no ability to keep […]

  14. Jeff Chesney says:

    One of the unintended consequences would be the charges that get laid on the individuals occupying the foreclosures. The charges would be Break and Enter, and Trespassing.

    Although the Occupy Wall Street movement has gained a lot of popular support, the larger question that I think is relevant is: Why has the movement captured so much support? Who (population demographic) is attracted to the movement?

    The publicly stated object of the movement is concerning taxation. So why not examine the movement from a taxation perspective. Yes, I agree Civil Disobedience is a valuable activist tactic to draw attention. To evaluate an idea based on actual population demographics I think is highly relevant, not necessarily how the movement is going about the demonstration.

    I would be tremendously grateful for an info-graphic pertaining to taxation rates vs. income levels. Since the primary focus of the movement has been the tax breaks President Bush ushered in, and extended by President Obama, then a comparison of current taxation by income (including available deductions/breaks/etc) against projected taxation by income (including available deductions/breaks/etc) would be worthwhile.

    Of course, such a graphic would require a fairly significant investment of time, so I don’t know if it is reasonable to ask for one.

  15. […] some not-very-sympathetic-to-Occupy conservative bloggers have suggested an effort to occupy foreclosures makes […]

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