Staff Photo: Josh Green A smattering of protestors associated with Occupy Gwinnett rallied Tuesday morning during a foreclosure auction at the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center.
LAWRENCEVILLE -- When a snafu with DeKalb County government caused Kenneth Glover to lose his three businesses in the same shopping center -- a liquor store, skating rink and barber shop -- he said it cast him in a financial hole he has yet to emerge from.
His investment capital shot, Glover said his three-bedroom ranch in Snellvlle was next to go, selling in foreclosure last month to Fannie Mae for about $20,000 less than he owed, he said.
Under an ominous canopy of clouds, Glover joined a handful of Occupy Gwinnett supporters Tuesday morning in decrying what they maintain is a heartless and unflinching foreclosure process. The target was a county foreclosure auction at the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center, a scene crowded with several auctioneers and dozens of bidders. The protestors carried signs scolding banks and a banner reading: "This is a crime scene!"
Sheriff's Deputies kept watch over the proceedings from the courthouse roof and filmed it with handheld cameras. It marked Occupy Gwinnett's first appearance at courthouse auctions, where the group holds regular meetings, leaders said.
"What we have found in the Gwinnett court system is a judge won't look at any paperwork -- they won't listen," said Occupy Gwinnett member Deborah Storm. "In other counties and other states, what we're seeing is, this ain't happening."
One banking industry veteran in the crowd questioned the validity of the protestors' claims -- and the logic behind taking out big loans on unaffordable homes in the first place.
Glover said he's been forced to uproot to Newton County while an appeal he filed lingers in Gwinnett State Court. He feels the foreclosure was executed illegally and claims he was bared from seeing key paperwork before the home was sold.
"I don't feel good (about protesting), but you got to do what you got to do to make people aware," Glover said.
Occupy Gwinnett members have drafted a petition to change the foreclosure laws regarding personal property, insisting that belongings pulled from foreclosed houses should be stored at the expense of the dispossessor. The group first drew attention to their cause early last month, when they picketed a Snellville Wells Fargo Bank and Walmart.
Gwinnett County Sheriff Butch Conway, whose agency executes evictions, has acknowledged the process is unpleasant but has steered clear of meeting with Occupy protestors in an attempt to remain neutral in performing his job, he said. Storm said Tuesday her complaints to the Sheriff's Department have fallen on deaf ears.
Storm said her outcry was aimed at the auction of a woman's home she'd met at Walmart. Last month, she stepped in to assist a Snellville family, the Roreys, that included a DeKalb police officer and who attracted media attention when Occupy Atlanta activists camped in their foreclosed home. That family was evicted Nov. 10.
The Roreys' attorney, Asim Alam, said Tuesday a civil lawsuit challenging Fannie Mae is pending, with depositions scheduled in two weeks.
Supporters say the family had never missed a payment since buying the home in 2003. They intentionally defaulted on a mortgage payment in July 2010 in order to qualify for a loan modification, which they thought would help with rising expenses and their college-age daughter's tuition.