Neighbors from Liberty City rallied together Thursday to gather trash at an abandoned, foreclosed home and then deliver the garbage to a downtown branch of Bank of America, which owns the empty house.
See the below slideshow for photos from the protest, organized by the Miami Workers Center, which works to create a "progressive political and social environment in South Florida that allows for the full growth and development of low-income communities of color."
Organizer Trenise Bryant said ''Banks maintain foreclosed properties in white neighborhoods why can't they do the same in black communities? It’s bad enough these big banks put families out of their homes, now they just let the houses sit there bringing down the property value for everyone else in the neighborhood."
While police on bicycles blocked the entrance to the bank, protesters wielding bags of trash and discarded tires yelled: "Bank of America, bad for America,' and "They made a mess of the economy. Clean up your mess. They made a mess of our community. Clean up your mess. "
When the protestors initially arrived at the abandoned home, Miami police were already there and threatened to arrest them for trespassing, the Sun Sentinel reports. So instead, they gathered the ample trash strewn around the property.
One of the community activists Michael Daniels told the Sun Sentinel, "They probably get away with code violations and the city's not going to pick up and fine them on that. They'll continue to keep the property like this for years and nobody says anything about it."
In Chicago, after taxpayers were forced to pick up the bill to maintain such abandoned homes, the city started requiring the banks to take responsibility for the properties' upkeep.
NPR reports that if a Chicago owner is over a month and a half late on their mortgage, the bank has to check if the home has been abandoned. If it has, the lender then has to secure it, register it with the city, and keep it up to city code or suffer steep daily fines.