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Occupy group stages protest during foreclosure auction

Protestors identifying with the Occupy movement showed up Friday at the Kitsap County Administration Building to demonstrate against foreclosures during an auction of homes owned by banks. - Brett Cihon/Staff photo
Protestors identifying with the Occupy movement showed up Friday at the Kitsap County Administration Building to demonstrate against foreclosures during an auction of homes owned by banks.
— image credit: Brett Cihon/Staff photo

A small group identifying themselves as Occupy Bremerton protesters made themselves heard Friday morning outside the Kitsap County Administration Building during a foreclosure auction.

Five protesters waved signs, blew whistles and screamed into a bullhorn as an auctioneer tried to call out locations of foreclosed houses to be sold by banks to the highest bidder.

One protester who was using a megaphone was arrested by Port Orchard police for disorderly conduct.

The purpose of the protest was to stop the "illegal foreclosure sales," demonstrator Phyllis Penland said.

"We're out here to raise a ruckus," Penland said. "We need to stop illegal sales, stop corruption and fix what is broken."

Members of Occupy Bremerton decided in October to march at the foreclosure auction — also known as a trustees auction — held every Friday. The "noisemaking event" - as described in protest literature - was an attempt to disrupt the auctioneers and draw attention to the faults of the banking industry, Penland said.

"The system is totally broken," she said.

According to a Port Orchard Police Department report, one protester was arrested after he refused to set down his megaphone. According to the report, the man had a large amount of money on his person, and he told officers he had it with him to bail himself out of jail.

Other protestors blocked police cars and yelled at officers but were not arrested, the report states.

Occupy Bremerton is a localized party of the Occupy movement. According to www.occupytogether.com, the goals of the protest movement are ending the greed and corruption of the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans.

Bea Schuste, an employee of Ron Turner Real Estate Group who attended the outdoor auction, said she is empathetic with the protesters' desire for wholesale change. However, she said the protestors outside the administration building presented themselves wrong.

"I totally get that this is capitalism at its worst," said Schuste, commenting on the auctions. "But to shove a bullhorn in somebody's face and blow whistles after police tell you to stop is wrong. You should be upset at the economy, not the lady running the auction."

Often times banks try to work with people before they put a house in foreclosure, she said.

"Foreclosure is a last-ditch kind of thing," she said. "Nobody wants to throw anybody out of a house."

An Occupy Bremerton woman who identified herself as Mary F said she bought a house in Silverdale five years ago at the peak of the real estate boom and now finds herself $80,000 under water on her mortgage. Even if she sold the house, she said, she would still be saddled with debt.

Not usually one for protests, she said she plans to stick with the Occupy movement, hoping others will recognize that what happened to her didn't have to happen.

"We are a baby movement," she said. "We're growing and we're not going to stop."

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