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updated: 7/29/2011 8:40 PM

Addison woman's eviction leads to protest, arrests

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  • DuPage County Sheriff's deputies continued to remove items from this Addison house after evicting the owners. Five people who showed up to protest the eviction were arrested.

       DuPage County Sheriff's deputies continued to remove items from this Addison house after evicting the owners. Five people who showed up to protest the eviction were arrested.
    Elisabeth Mistretta | Staff Photographer

  • DuPage County Sheriff's deputies arrested five people who were protesting the eviction of the owners of this house in Addison.

       DuPage County Sheriff's deputies arrested five people who were protesting the eviction of the owners of this house in Addison.
    Elisabeth Mistretta | Staff Photographer

 

Before Luz Smedbron was set to be evicted from her Addison home Friday morning, she received a phone call from someone she didn't know.

"He said they wanted to protest the eviction, and they didn't care if they got arrested," Smedbron said.

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So at about 8:30 a.m. Friday, five members of the Chicago Anti-Eviction Campaign came to Smedbron's home, where she lived for 10 years with her sons, ages 26, 24 and 12, and protested as DuPage County Sheriff's deputies evicted the family from the 200 block of North Maple Avenue.

The group's spokesman, Willie J.R. Flemming, said a relative of Smedbron's reached out to the advocacy organization, which is why they contacted the family. According to its website, the group is "calling for a national moratorium on economically-motivated evictions" and physically protesting them until such a policy exists.

"We want to challenge the sheriff department's ideology and ask them to look at this from a moral standpoint," said Fleming. "Legally, you might find yourself conflicted. But many Americans are becoming unemployed or underemployed. And these (evictions) have caused a lot of working Americans to lose everything they saved up for."

Protesters were already at the home when police arrived and refused to leave, sheriff's officials said.

Just before noon, deputies arrested Robert (Rory) Fanning III, 34, of the 4600 block of Winschester Ave., Chicago; Holly Krig, 37, of the 4000 block of Oriole St., Norridge; Jorge Ortiz, 29, 6700 block of Seeley Ave., Chicago; Christopher Poulos, 25, of the 700 block of Mitchell Ave., Arlington Heights; Toussaint Losier, 29, of the 400 block of Calumet Ave., Chicago.

Each was charged with one count of criminal trespass to property, one count of obstructing a peace officer and one count of obstructing service of process, all misdemeanors. Ortiz and Poulos were also charged with resisting a peace officer, also a misdemeanor.

Sheriff's department spokeswoman Dawn Domrose added deputies hoped for a peaceful conclusion, but the protesters refused to leave.

Smedbron said the group did point her toward shelters where she could stay, since she only has a place to store belongings that officials moved onto the lawn and driveway of her house.

"I am a single mother and I don't have any family, except my children," said Smedbron, who added that she lives on disability income.

Ortiz and Krig were sympathetic to her plight with posts they left last night while planning the protest on the Chicago Anti-Eviction Campaign's Facebook page.

"We will not let this family be displaced!" Ortiz wrote in a post.

But their efforts were unsuccessful, as Smedbron and her youngest son, Max, walked the street in front of their home Friday afternoon after the arrests, while police and movers occupied the house. Her older sons were at work, she said.

Neighbors stopped in their cars or walked down their driveways in the upscale neighborhood near I-290, surveying the scene.

Smedbron said she tried to work with her bank to remain in the home, but received little help.

"The banks are not being cooperative," she said. "They prefer to have houses empty and people homeless."

Fleming said he hopes the protesters actions will bring awareness, even if they didn't prevent the eviction.

"I think they sent a strong message," said Fleming. "A lot of them are students who have a life in front of them, regular people who were willing to put their freedom on the line to make sure people have their human right to housing."

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