SNELLVILLE -- Occupy Atlanta supporters were encamped Wednesday for a third day at a foreclosed family home in Snellville, where leaders have unveiled an "Occupy Gwinnett" branch that plans to make the county's new interstate toll system a chief target.
The group pitched tents and took up residence in the middle-class neighborhood Monday in support of a Snellville family of five they feel has been victimized by the foreclosure process.
About a dozen occupiers remained Wednesday, with more tents and a hand-scribbled "No Trespassing" sign now dotting the front yard.
Occupy Atlanta organizer Tim Franzen said the Gwinnett Occupy branch was started during a nightly "general assembly" in that front yard, where foreclosures and the Peach Pass system emerged as issues at the forefront of Gwinnettians' minds. He called the high-occupancy toll system "a clear cash grab" and hinted about trying to mobilize drivers without passes to occupy the lanes en masse.
"There's a lot of interesting action that can be taken against the Peach Pass," Franzen told the Daily Post. "No one likes it -- why should something like this be allowed to exist? Those who profit from it need to be a target."
The Rorey family facing eviction in Snellville includes a DeKalb police officer and his homemaker wife. Having never missed a monthly payment, they fell into foreclosure after trying to modify their mortgage to compensate for cost-of-living increases and their eldest daughter's college tuition, supporters have said. Franzen said he's turned away supporters in Atlanta who are eager to drive to the suburbs and help.
The family's belongings have been packed into a large moving pod in the driveway. Sheriff's Department spokeswoman Stacey Bourbonnais said an eviction has yet to be scheduled.
Franzen said his requests for a sit-down with Sheriff Butch Conway to explain his group's stance have been ignored. Sheriff's Department officials could not be reached for a response late Wednesday.
"Sheriff Conway has the power to stop this eviction, because it is unjust," Franzen said. "We sure would like to see him take a stand on this."
The Rorey's are hardly alone in their eviction plight.
Data provided by the Sheriff's Department show that deputies execute 30 evictions per day, or roughly 150 per week, in Gwinnett. Those numbers include delinquent renters and foreclosed homeowners.
But the number of evictions in Gwinnett on strictly foreclosed homes stands to climb by 18 percent this year, based on a projected total of 2,321 homes this year versus 1,966 in 2010, Bourbonnais said.
Georgia had the sixth-highest foreclosure rate in the nation through the first half of 2011, according to RealtyTrac.
Protestors have set up an operating base in the Roreys' basement and have started bombarding Fannie Mae's regional office in Atlanta with calls, demanding the company make the Rorey's mortgage work, Franzen said. The family's attorney said the home is worth $80,000 less than they paid for it in 2003, which prevented them from refinancing the loan.
Should the foreclosure still be pending late Thursday, Franzen said Occupy protestors will picket Fannie Mae's office in Buckhead.
"These houses are like a set of dominoes," Franzen said. "When one gets hit (with foreclosure), it effects the other."
As for the Peach Pass issue, Franzen said protestors are eying a scheduled Nov. 17 town hall meeting hosted by State Sen. Curt Thompson (D-Tucker) to make their voices heard.