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In S.F. Bayview district

Longshore union helps fight foreclosure

Published Mar 23, 2012 10:07 PM

Dexter Cato
Photo: Bill Carpenter

Dexter Cato is fighting eviction, and the community is helping by “reclaiming” his home. A dock worker and union carpenter, Cato was born and raised in the historically African-American neighborhood of Bayview/Hunters Point in San Francisco.

Nearly a hundred people massed at Cato’s house at 1401 Quesada in the pouring rain on March 16 to occupy the home and send a message to “community predator” Wells Fargo Bank: “Rescind the foreclosure sale and eviction of Dexter Cato. No more foreclosures for profit.”

Members of Cato’s union, the International Longshore & Warehouse Union, signed up on a clipboard and took shifts for a “people’s occupation” of his house. Eight ILWU members stood on the upstairs porch and led the crowd in chanting, “Nationalize the banks! Nationalize the banks!”

A neighbor spoke out: “They’re foreclosing on my home, too. It’s happening up and down this street. Wells Fargo and the other banks are terrorizing this community.”

“Why isn’t the government intervening to help these people?” asked Alex Haile, another neighbor. “It’s because the banks run the government, that’s why. This is not a people’s government. This is the capitalists’ government, and they don’t give a damn about a worker losing his home.”

Mesha Monge-Irizarry, whose only son was murdered by police, shot at close range in a San Francisco movie theater, spoke out from Cato’s porch: “This neighborhood was built with the sweat and blood of Black people, who came here to work in the Hunters Point shipyard. Now their descendants are fighting to save their family homes — to keep from being forced out of their own community by these criminal banks. Power to the Hood!”

Call for moratorium on all foreclosures

The action was organized by the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, successor to the ACORN organization in this state, which issued a statement:

“Dexter Cato, ACCE Foreclosure Fighter and ILWU member, and his family were victims of Wells Fargo’s ‘dual tracking’ program. That’s when one part of the bank says they want to work with you while a separate department continues to foreclose on your house. In 2009, after Dexter and his wife Christina (a city bus driver) had applied for a modification, his wife tragically passed away in a traffic accident. Still grieving, he is now the only supporter of their four children.”

According to ACCE, the bank offered Cato a modification and he promptly sent in a payment. However, the bank foreclosed anyway, sold his home at public auction, and had the sheriff post a notice on his door to vacate.

“We are demanding that Dexter Cato and families throughout San Francisco get affordable modifications and that all banks … apply a widespread MORATORIUM on all foreclosures,” the ACCE statement continued.

“Until then, for every home Wells and big banks take, ACCE Foreclosure Fighters, unions, clergy and the community are going to defend and take it back. If the banks refuse to do a moratorium on foreclosures, we will do our own until our demands are met.

“Right now, neighbors, unions, and supporters are re-claiming his home. They are committing to continue to take back homes until banks, like Wells Fargo, work with borrowers and apply a widespread moratorium on all foreclosures,” ACCE concluded.

One of the protesters at Cato’s house was Rosie Alvarado, who a week earlier had “occupied” her own home with 20 friends to forestall her own fraudulent eviction. However, this week was another story. While she and foreclosure fighter Delia Pedroza-Aguilar were in San Francisco helping to “reclaim” Cato’s house, armed police broke into Alvarado’s home in Antioch 50 miles away and ordered her family members out of the house. Alvarado plans to file a complaint with the district attorney.

“I’m so sorry about what those [cops] did in Antioch,” said Mary Ratcliff, editor of the San Francisco Bay View newspaper, “but so grateful Rosie and Delia were able to drive the 50 miles to support Dexter Cato in the Bayview … in the pouring, driving rain!”

People are asked to contact Rubin Pulido at [email protected] or 415-852-1279 and demand that he rescind the sale and eviction of Dexter Cato.