LAWRENCEVILLE -- While Occupy Atlanta protesters pulled out of a home Thursday morning in southeast Gwinnett and conceded it to authorities, they vowed to maintain a presence in Gwinnett to spotlight foreclosure woes.
Occupy leaders said the Snellville family they'd rallied around this week was evicted, sans protester arrests, following a judge's order Monday. The family of five, which includes a DeKalb County policeman and college-age daughter, are staying with relatives indefinitely, said Occupy organizer Tim Franzen.
The group had previously vowed to not budge when deputies arrived. Franzen said protesters left on their own volition and were never urged to do so by the family.
The group pulled up stakes in fear the police officer, Chris Rorey, would be arrested. Franzen said Gwinnett County Sheriff Butch Conway had threatened to press accessory to obstruction and trespassing charges against family members should the protesters interfere with the eviction.
"For a police officer, an arrest could mean firing," Franzen said. "Instead of working with his constituents, (Conway) absolutely sided with the bank on this."
Conway issued a statement Thursday but declined further comment.
"I am not going to address accusations made by Occupy Atlanta," Conway's statement reads. "Evictions are never pleasant for anyone, but I have a job to do and I'm doing my job."
Earlier this week, Franzen was critical of the Sheriff for ignoring his requests for a tete-a-tete meeting, he said.
In response to an earlier Daily Post inquiry, Conway said Thursday he never had intentions of meeting or negotiating with Occupy Atlanta because he wanted to remain neutral and do his job.
"I am not going to get dragged in the middle of this situation with this group and these particular homeowners," Conway said.
Franzen said his group's efforts will turn to canvassing Snellville, in an effort to build support for saving the Rorey's home. Protestors plan to picket mortgage controller Fannie Mae's regional offices on Monday, he said.
Rorey's attorney said 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 daughter's tuition, supporters have said.
Instead, after three months, a foreclosure notification was issued, sparking a yearlong court battle. Frustrated, the family reached out to Occupy Atlanta leaders and struck a chord last week.
The family tried but failed to convince a Gwinnett judge to stop the eviction in a Friday hearing attended by Occupy Atlanta protestors.
Despite the eviction, Franzen said an Occupy "general assembly" was planned for a fourth straight night Thursday in front of the Rorey's home.