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Americans Fight Back


Illinois sheriff refuses to do banks' bidding.


Shhh. Can you hear it?

Remove your ear from the ground. It's no longer a murmur. The shifting social mood has bubbled to the surface: Americans are starting to fight back.

Our 401(k)s are evaporating before our eyes. Elected officials trumpet power grabs that moonlight as rescue packages. Talking heads mention in passing that General Motors (GM) may not be around next year.

And while some are content to sit, mouth agape, staring at a screen, watching flickering symbols drop in value and bank accounts dwindle, others have had enough and are doing something about it.

Jurisdiction be damned, enough is enough.

On Wednesday in Chicago, Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart said his police force will no longer carry out orders to evict renters if banks foreclose on their landlords. As long as tenants are current on their rent, they can stay. For now. Dart is demanding lenders provide reasonable notice so renters have ample time to find a new place to live.

Financial institutions typically outsource the foreclosure process, which, as one might expect, can get messy. Collections, lawsuits, evictions - these aren't things banks like to deal with (it's far easier to manage a vendor than deal with the problem themselves). Eviction is the ugliest part, as real people -- warranted or not -- must at times be physically removed from their homes.

In the case of renters, this includes families whose only transgression was to choose renting over buying. Sheriff Dart said he could no longer stand the sight of families returning home and finding their belongings on the street, through no fault of their own.

"These mortgage companies only see pieces of paper, not people, and don't care who's in the building," the sheriff said in a news release. "They simply want their money and don't care who gets hurt along the way. We're not going to do their jobs for them anymore. We're just not going to let them evict innocent tenants. It stops today."

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