LOS ANGELES — Activists on Tuesday marked the 52nd day of a sit-in at a foreclosed Van Nuys home by vowing they will remain until they are forced out of the property they have dubbed “Fort Hernandez.”
“We are still strong!” said a posting on the Facebook page of the group calling itself Occupy San Fernando Valley.
It’s one of several acts of defiance around the nation staged by people who are losing homes through foreclosure.
Eleven people, including some children, continue to live in the home owned by Javier Hernandez, who bought it in 2006 for $546,000. He signed a subprime mortgage requiring interest-only payments at first with an adjustable rate.
The monthly payment went from $3,900 to $4,500 and four loan modification requests were denied. Hernandez stopped making payments nearly five years ago on what is now a $253,000 house. The past-due amount tops $250,000 – more than the home’s current value of $242,000.
“We might not be the best example for sympathy, but we don’t want sympathy,” only a chance for a loan modification, Javier Hernandez said.
“What we were saying is, ‘Come on, man, work with us,’” said his brother, Ulises Hernandez-Banuelos.
He and others sat Monday on scavenged couches on the sidewalk in front of the home. Behind them, anti-bank and anti-Wall Street signs and graffiti covered wooden boards, including a handmade no-trespassing sign declaring the home to be private property.
The sit-in began after the eviction notice was issued in August, the Los Angeles Daily News (http://bit.ly/QkbSp3) reported.
Hernandez-Banuelos, 21, was arrested over the weekend on a misdemeanor warrant for missing a court date involving riding a bus without paying, he told the Daily News.
He was arrested Saturday and released the same day on $561 bail.
Witnesses told the paper that up to eight police officers and two unmarked police cars were involved in the misdemeanor weekend arrest.
A video posted online showed officers in street clothes in an unmarked Honda arresting Hernandez-Banuelos and refusing to explain to bystanders why they were there, the paper said.
“I think it’s just another show of intimidation,” he said.
Officer Rosario Herrera, an LAPD spokeswoman, said she did not know why officers were in unmarked cars. She said that in general, more officers might be sent to make an arrest if there are indications of a crowd.
The Hernandez brothers said they will offer nonviolent resistance if authorities try to evict them.
“Civil disobedience at its finest,” Hernandez-Banuelos said. “My arrest is to draw attention to a national issue.”