Photo: UNDM in Los Angeles (Source @EastLosHeart)
By Nélida Tello with contributions from Serran Soledad and Henry Underwood
United Neighborhood Defense Movement (UNDM) chapters across the country held a National Day of Action on January 1. The National Day of Action is a continuation of actions led by UNDM which commenced in November 2019 as a response to the eviction moratorium passed by Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in September. UNDM has organized tenants against the illusion of the eviction moratorium which has not put an end to the accumulated back rent and the looming eviction wave when the moratorium is lifted.
The UNDM chapter in Austin marched in the East side neighborhood of Riverside, where activists and supporters agitated against the Presidium owned Collective and Ultimate Drive-In movie theater, a project designed to help evict low income and working people from the neighborhood.
The march progressed through a working class apartment complex where activists agitating tenants to join in the rent strike and unite against property owners who evict tenants despite the current economic depression and ongoing pandemic.
The marched ended with activists giving speeches condemning the ruling class pushing the economic crisis onto the working class and the chant, “It’s their crisis, we won’t pay! The working class is here to stay!”
In San Marcos, the UNDM chapter agitated against the eviction moratorium as a solution for working class tenants, calling on tenants to get organized and fight back against evictions and back rent.
About 40 people joined the UNDM chapter of Los Angeles (LA), as they marched to the office building of the Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles (AAGLA), a wealthy and politically influential lobbying group, who advocate for and assist landlords holding membership in the organization.
Demonstrators marched through the streets of Westlake, towards the AAGLA office banging pots and pans and chanting in Spanish, “¡Sin trabajo, no hay renta!” and “¡Dueños Golosos! Y AAGLA La Rata!” (In English: “Without work, there’s no rent!” and “Greedy landlords, AAGLA is a Rata!”)
UNDM and Los Angeles Tenants Union (East Hollywood) distributed hundreds of leaflets to community members, inviting them to an anti-eviction presentation.
Once at the AAGLA building, supporters and activists read anti-tenant quotes from AAGLA Vice President Earle Vaughan,and Executive Director Daniel Yukelson. The crowd booed as the quotes were read aloud and photos of the two depicted as parasites were wheat pasted onto the front door of the building, concluding the action.
The Pittsburgh chapter of UNDM led a rally outside of mayor Bill Peduto’s house. Despite a CDC eviction moratorium, evictions have continued to be carried out while the ruling class politicians have acted against working class tenants and aided in the eviction of many.
Demonstrators left stakes with the heads of various city politicians who play key roles in the evictions of working class tenants across Pittsburgh, as well as signs which read “No Evictions! No Back Rent! We Won’t Pay a Single Cent!” in Bill Peduto’s yard.
Activists gave speeches in which they exposed the politicians who work against the interests of the working class. Demonstrators chanted, “Tenants of the ‘burgh unite! Let them know we’re here to fight!” The UNDM chapter levied three main demands: an end to rent collection, waive all back rent, tenants of Pittsburgh join the anti-eviction squads.
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