For long time Stony Ridge resident Keith Sadler, barricading himself when the
Wood County sheriff arrived for eviction was not just about keeping his home.
It didn't last long, though. The sheriff returned this morning and removed Sadler from his former residence, and Sadler and protesters were arrested.
Sadler says there are two stories here. One is his personal story. The other paints a much broader picture.
Sadler purchased his home at 5947 Fremont Pike on March 10, 1998 for $77,000 from his father, Billy D. Sadler, after living with his father for nearly 10 years.
In recent years, Sadler struggled to make mortgage payments after working through injuries, having surgery in July of 2008, going from job to job, and being laid off from factory work.
“Things were really tight. I had gotten behind on some payments, but I was staying about a month behind. Right around the time I had surgery I got a certified letter in the mail saying I had to catch up on my payments. I was four months behind. They started the proceedings and I quit making payments then,” Sadler said.
“I had never quit making payments until they threatened the foreclosures, and
the bottom line was they wanted the four months in 30 days or they were filing in March of ’09.”
On March 18, 2010, the State Bank and Trust Company took possession at a sheriff’s sale, paying $33,333. The home and its lot are appraised at $94,100 for tax purposes. His eviction was supposed to happen May 3.
Sadler had come to terms that eventually he would have to leave the home.
The second story is about why five fellow members of the Toledo Foreclosure Defense League were barricaded inside the home with him, and more were camped on the front lawn. They were protesting against the increasing number of foreclosures.
“We want to achieve that this doesn’t happen to anyone else,” said TFDL member Wesley Flowers. “This came out of the housing crisis. What happened is all the people who came together and dealt with this and started the Toledo Foreclosure Defense League, we were either personally affected by foreclosure or an eviction, or we have close family members who have.
“We’ve been seeing houses in neighborhoods get emptied out and boarded up. When there is a row of boarded up houses on one side of the street and homeless people on the other side of the street, that’s immoral,” Flowers, a downtown Toledo resident, continued.
“It’s all over the region, and as we really start touting the jobless recovering that’s going on is that the real number of people that are getting their heads under water now as a result of unemployment or disability, in truth, is that foreclosures are actually starting to get worse because a lot of houses that were foreclosed on last year are coming up for eviction this year.
“So for people it’s really snow under the surface, and there’s been a significant increase in Wood County and Lucas County and all of the Northwest Ohio area. I mean, the whole state of Ohio is a red state as far as foreclosure seriousness, and we’re up there with Michigan, Florida, and Arizona. It has to stop at the county level. It has to stop with our elected representatives because they are the only people with the power to stop it.
“It’s for everybody, because there are 1.5 million homes that have been foreclosed on in the United States since things started. The average American home has three people in it, so do the math. That’s millions and millions of people are getting put out in the streets and that has to stop,” said Flowers, “because people suffering through this need some breathing room.”
Could have been long wait
The TFDL formally organized about the same time foreclosure proceedings were filed on Hadler’s home, Members say if a moratorium is established in Wood County to stop foreclosures for an indefinite period of time they will walk out of the house.
“We were concerned about the problem and what other people were going through and were heard there was a movement where some groups were doing things about it around Toledo, but we couldn’t find anybody doing anything,” Sadler said.
“So eventually we decided to go on our own and try to get other groups, other faith-based groups, other activist groups to join us. I guess because of other activities we were involved in we were considered too radical or militant. That was the picture they had.”
Wood County Sheriff Mark Wasylyshyn said he does “not have the authority to do a moratorium.”
“That’s our demand. We won’t leave this house until that is done or until they drag us out,” Sadler said.
Sadler said when the sheriff arrived with a SWAT team or deputies to force his removal, he would have little recourse but to allow them to drag him out. He and the other members of his protest group are not armed. This morning, that is exactly what happened. The sheriff and his deputies arrived on the scene, rain and all, before 8 a.m.
Group members believe they accomplished what they set out to do.
“We’ve gotten people that have texted us and called us from all over the country, and from Canada either from the chat room that our live feed is going through or texting us from different parts of the world,” Sadler said.
Last week, Sadler said he had been in touch with national and worldwide media from the Associated Press, the Pan-African News Wire, MSNBC, ABC’s “Inside Edition,” film director Michael Moore, and the Huffington Post. Flowers believes the longer the sheriff waits to forcibly evict, the more effective the protest will be.
“It’s gone global,” Flowers said. ‘Everyone is basically covering this. It’s gone viral and really it’s the result of the live (webcam) feed. The reason we put the live feed on is so that we have exactly what is going on inside the house, and everybody out there in America who is watching this happen can actually get to know the people who are inside.
“We want other people to take peaceful, non-violent direct action on their own to defend their properties. It doesn’t take a crazy militia to come around and defend someone’s property. It just takes people who are committed enough to carrying it out.”
They could have been waiting a long time. Sheriff Wasylyshyn told The Press he had until May 28 to forcibly remove Sadler. Yesterday, Flowers said he hoped the sheriff takes his time.
“We’re expecting the sheriff at any time, from now to an indefinite period. He’s going to have to come here before this is all over CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and hundreds of thousands of other Americans are inspired to do the same thing — which is really what we want to happen," Flowers said.