Rob: Yes. Well, I think this is a really good example of Nietzsche's quote, "That which does kill the makes the stronger." / So it does.
Jill: / It's true. What's that?
Rob: So, now from my understanding is you came to Pennsylvania, went to Harrisburg. You were involved and getting things finalized and then you got yourself arrested.
Jill: That's right. For the first time in my life I have to say.
Jill: That's right. I'm now a member of a very big club. / Yeah.
Rob: / So, what happened?
Jill: We have a very strong network in Pennsylvania that Cheri Honkala is very much connected with and this is the poor people's economic justice network and they and Cheri and the Green Party have been fighting the foreclosure crisis, which is just raging in Philadelphia and other places around the country. So, we have been long supporting two women and their families that have been trying to hold onto their homes and are basically in the foreclosure process thanks to Fannie Mae. You know, which we as tax payers basically own. They continue to throw families out of their homes and these two women in particular had very unjust cases against them. One had inherited the house from her mother. Yet, when her mother died, the bank put it into foreclosure and refused to deal with her. She's a working woman. She lives in the house. She has the ability to absorb the mortgage, which by the way was a reverse mortgage in order to take care of the mother's health problems in her final years. So, another example of what's broken--that is our health care system and we're having to put our homes into hock in order to afford health care in this unjust health care system. And then people are getting thrown out of their homes because the banks are looking to do that. They're looking for every excuse they can get to take possession of the home, which was completely unjust and illegal. Every legal means has been pursued, including efforts to change these laws and nothing has been forthcoming.
So, we went into Fannie Mae along with a large group of supporters, had a demonstration outside on behalf of these two homeowners and we basically went into Fannie Mae to ask them to please sit down and bargain in good faith to keep these homeowners in their homes and they offered to basically buy them off for a small fee. They offered them $2000 if they would just go away, but did not offer to really negotiate and revise their mortgage agreements and enable them to recognize them as owners of their homes and allow them to stay. So, we all sat down until all such a time as they would do this and five of us were arrested, basically for trespassing.
Rob: Had you thought ahead and planned to do this? Was this a decision that you made ahead of time?
Jill: Well, we made the decision that we were going to go to the mat for these homeowners and that we were going to do everything in our power to make the banks do what they're supposed to do, which is negotiate to keep homeowners in their homes. That's why we bailed them out to the tune of some $4.5 trillion dollars in bailouts, plus another $16 trillion in free loans. That was in order to keep homeowners in their homes and protect our communities from the devastation of foreclosure, which is not just a problem for the homeowner. It's really a problem for the whole community. And it becomes a blight of vacant buildings, which is a real problem; brings down everybody's home value and brings all kinds of problems into the neighborhood. So, we were--
Rob: I guess what I'm trying to get at is, you basically engaged in a protest, engaged in civil disobedience and you got yourself arrested. Was that a conscious decision to take those steps?
Jill: It was a conscious decision that we were going to use all peaceful means, having exhausted every other avenue. We made the decision that if it came to being arrested, we were willing to be arrested to support these women and bring attention to their just cause. It's not only their cause. It's the cause of another million homeowners who will be thrown out of their homes this year. So we felt, yes, we'd been forced to cross that line.
Rob: How do you feel about having been arrested, now that that's happened?
Jill: I feel that it should be a required experience for anyone who wants to hold office and pretends to represent the public interest. They need to know what's going on in our prison system from the inside. So, yes, it was really quite an enlightening experience to go through that.
Rob: What was enlightening about it?