SAN DIEGO, CA. Arriving at the noon press conference a few minutes late, I walked into the Mira Mesa cul-de-sac, where a few television trucks announced something was up. It was to be the ‘Support June Reyno’ media event organized by the Ad Hoc Campaign Against Eviction and Foreclosure. June Reyno was the San Diegan who had chained herself to her front porch in a dramatic display of resisting her coming eviction because of her home of almost 20 years being foreclosed. As I walked up the short, windy sidewalk, a large rented moving van rested patiently in the drive-way.
There, sheltered from the Santa Ana sun by the front porch was June Reyno, cradling a trove of papers in her arm, surrounded by a dozen supporters, nearly hidden by a half dozen cameras facing them. Past the line of supporters, the Reynos’ open front door beckoned into a room with shiny hardwood floors. I got out my camera and my pad.
As I approached the gathering, I heard “She’s our hero,” from Rosie Martinez, executive board member of SEIU Local 721, who then said she also supported June Reyno’s call for a national moratorium on evictions from foreclosures.
Others would speak. Fernando from the Filipino-American group BAYAN – USA called Reyno’s eviction and circumstances, “outrageous!” He repeated Reyno’s claim that “this house belongs to the people of the United States because we bought it in the bailout.” (Sorry, I didn’t get his last name.)
Another young Filipino-American from AWAKBAYAN-San Diego teared up as he described the Reynos’ plight, declaring metaphorically that they “are our uncles and aunts, our parents.” John Parker from a Los Angeles-based group called Labor Community Coalition, expressed his group’s support, graphically condemning banks and the capitalist system. Kathy Hughart, a member of the Crown Point Condo Association, spoke out also, linking the Reyno’s situation with the economic meltdown nationwide. Kathy also described an anonymous phone call that she received that caustically demanded to know why she supported June Reyno but refused to give a name or number.
Finally June Reyno herself stood before the mikes. She prefaced her spiel with thanks to the Sheriffs and Police Department for having patience and understanding.The Mira Mesa woman explained her plight – she was the most articulate of any who spoke. She declared “this home is owned by the people of the United States of America,” and linked her troubles with the other millions of homeowners in foreclosure circumstances; she called on elected officials and Congress to do something to allow those families to keep their homes. “I will not stop until Congress does something about this,” she exclaimed, “now.” It was urgent, she explained because a 1,000 American families a month face foreclosure and eviction.
“Now is the time,” June said, “for Americans to come together and hold hands.” It was a beautiful thought.
The more critical corporate media present at the press conference were quick to undercut June Reyno’s stance, by attempts to force her to explain sales of other houses, her own foreclosure history, her business, her monied affairs. Several people from the LA Labor Community group intervened, and cut off the sharp media questions – questions that were not polite and gently exressed. Tensions mounted, eyeballs of camerapeople rolled, voices were raised, but June, cut through it all by offering to explain everything.
She condemned the bank for wanting to have her jailed rather than allowing her to buy back her house. She had used the money for her business, which was an effort to assist people with disabilities, to help engineer people getting licensed and to obtain houses for community care businesses. But her partner went south, and she was stuck with 6 to 7 properties out in the desert. She couldn’t get loans due to an earlier bankruptcy filing. The houses went on the market, and after six months without any offers, they went into foreclosure. She had more to say, which I have to distill yet from my notes.
Thinking about who was there in support, it seems there is some genuine support for June, that her defiance has indeed struck a strong cord among some within the American public, and there is certainly media interest. I sensed that the Ad Hoc Campaign Against Eviction and Foreclosure is made up of three forces primarily: a couple of Filipino-American organizations – June Reyno is Filipino-American; secondly, folks around SEIU Local 721; and thirdly, the L.A.-based Labor Community Coalition – which appears to be an organization set up by some hard-left group, as they appeared to have all the rhetoric associated with those who have not integrated themselves into popular mass fronts; also among June’s supporters, there seemed to be a few sympathetic independent local people as well.
Notably, even though I received a press notice via the San Diego Coalition for Peace and Justice email network, there weren’t any local peace folks present, no local labor people except SEIU Local 721, and no Housing Coalition members.
June Reyno’s stance continues to be controversial. Has she answered all the corporate media’s answers? Has she fully explained gaps in her story even to potential supporters? While it may be true that there are others who are even in more of a sympathetic situation, June Reyno has indeed struck a chord of deep interest and empathy if not one of deep concern and sympathy.
We’ll keep an update going.