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Protesters Help East Los Angeles Homeowner Fight Foreclosure

Six protesters were arrested on Tuesday following a day of action targeting an international bank foreclosing on an East Los Angeles homeowner. The protesters aligned with Occupy LA, a branch of a national movement protesting economic inequality and greed tied to Wall Street, accused Deutsche Bank of illegally foreclosing on American homes.

The day’s protests culminated with six protesters being arrested in an act of civil disobedience in front of the Deutsche Bank offices in Century City. The protesters blocked traffic and were arrested for failing to disperse.

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The protesters hope to bring attention to the bank’s efforts to foreclose on Margarita Lucero’s home on Hammel St., where dozens of protesters have been standing watch and camping out since mid-October.

(Left): East Los Angeles homeowner Margarita Lucero says she’s not asking for a handout, she wants to continue paying the mortgage for the home she purchased 15 years ago. (EGP photo by Gloria Angelina Castillo)

Tears welled up in the eyes of the Spanish-speaking homeowner, who was overwhelmed Tuesday by the show of support.

“I got emotional because there are so many people who came to give us their support because they see the injustice,” Lucero told EGP during a protest and press conference earlier in the day in front of the German Consulate’s office.

East LA-based Danza Cuauhtemoc, an Aztec dance group, also rallied in support of Lucero. Cuauhtemoc’s Judith Garcia led protesters in a loud chant: “Evict the banks, not the people!” she shouted.

“All the big banks are run by gangsters,” chanted protesters.

Deirdra Duncan, a foster mother and renter, spoke during Tuesday’s rally in front of the German Consulate, and said banks and courts don’t care if residents have a lease agreement, noting that when they foreclosed on her landlord, they also foreclosed on her and her foster children.

Lucero said the holder of her mortgage could help her if they wanted to and she’s still hopeful they will. Nonetheless, earlier that day, she filed a lawsuit against the bank for wrongful foreclosure.

Two groups, Occupy Fights Foreclosures and Home Defense Alliance, have been aiding Lucero in her legal challenge against the German bank. They say the bank has several lawsuits pending for fraud and slumlord housing conditions.

“We know the court belongs to them [the banks] because they have all the money to hire attorneys… We’re not expecting the court to be favorable to us,” Carlos Marroquin of Occupy Fights Foreclosures told EGP.

Marroquin says the Lucero family is the victim of a questionable foreclosure that includes a loan modification the family paid on time.

The foreclosure actually involves two homes, both located on one plot of land. Lucero’s brother lived in one of the homes but he and his wife and two children were evicted in mid-October. She and her disabled husband have lived in the other home they purchased in1998.

Lucero says her nightmare began in 2011 when she asked to modify her loan, but was told she would only qualify for a modification if she paid a specified amount in advance, which she says she did. But the bank didn’t follow though on their end, she said. Soon after, they stopped accepting her mortgage payments and started foreclosure proceedings against her.

Desperate for help, she says she paid three different agencies a total of $10,000 to help her rescue her home. She also filed for bankruptcy.

The Lucero family was “illegally” locked out of their home on Sept. 27 and resorted to living in their car, so they reached out to Occupy LA for help, according to protest organizers.

In October, activists took over the home and have been camping out there ever since, they told EGP.

29-year-old Benjamin Torres, one of the protesters helping to barricade the home, described the family as a “typical Mexican family in Los Angeles” that is hardworking, diligent, and subscribes to American Dream. He told EGP Lucero he thinks the back discriminated against Lucero because she doesn’t speak English.

On Tuesday, Lucero said she is unsure if or when the Sheriffs might come to evict her and the protestors.

Deutsche Bank could not be reached for comment before time of publication.