Civil Liberties  
comments_image Comments

Economic Crisis Is Getting Bloody -- Violent Deaths Are Now Following Evictions, Foreclosures and Job Losses

Despite ever rosier economic predictions and a surging stock market, the body count from the economic crisis is destined only to grow in the weeks and months ahead.

Continued from previous page


In the days that followed, as they have all year long, other economically-motivated extreme acts were carried out across the country. In an attempt to save their home from foreclosure, Daniel Weston and Mary Ann Parmelee, both 52, hired a pair of loan modification agents. Believing they had been ripped off, the Los Angeles couple later lured the men into an ambush, on October 20th, in which "Weston and another man, Gustavo Canez, 36, allegedly beat and robbed them" using a handgun and wooden knuckles. 

On October 29th, in New Orleans, Louisiana, a man facing eviction armed himself with a rifle and barricaded himself inside his home. The act wasn't an isolated extreme for the area. "We've had a couple of suicides," Lambert Boissiere Jr., New Orleans's 1st City Court Constable remarked recently. "When the deputies get there, they find the person inside. Or sometimes you knock on the door and boom, they commit suicide." 

One such incident took place on November 5th when Patrick Sanchez of Irvine, California answered his door to find a sheriff's deputy serving him an eviction notice. Sanchez asked the deputy to wait, walked back into his home and shot himself. It was, reportedly, at least the third eviction-related suicide in that area this year.

Elkhart Revisited

Right now, having suffered 13 deaths at the hands of a lone gunman, Fort Hood, Texas is the media's anguished community du jour. In February, however, it was the former "RV capital of the world," Elkhart, Indiana -- a financially-devastated community where President Barack Obama made an appearance to push his economic recovery package. In his speech at Elkhart's town hall, Obama caught the town's plight dramatically: "[This] area has lost jobs faster than anywhere else in the United States of America, with an unemployment rate of over 15 percent when it was 4.7 percent just last year… We're talking about people who have lost their livelihood and don't know what will take its place… That's what those numbers and statistics mean. That is the true measure of this economic crisis."

In reality, however, the "true measure" has only become clear as the year has ground on. As of early November there had been 22 confirmed suicides in Elkhart and two other likely self-inflicted deaths, outpacing the county average of 16. According to coroner John White, in more than a quarter of the suicides financial distress or job loss was a deciding factor for the victims. "They left notes specifically stating that the reason they did this was because of the economy," he said recently. He continued, "Everyone needs to be more aware with the stresses of 17 percent to 18 percent unemployment."

People do need to be aware of the stresses -- and the dire costs associated with them, but the chances of that happening are slim. The massacre at Fort Hood is bound to produce volumes of analyses resulting from multiple government inquiries into the killings. But neither the FBI nor Congress nor any other government agency will ever convene an investigation into the slow motion bloodbath resulting from the global economic crisis. For this reason, there will never be anything approaching a full tally of all the victims who were killed or died or were wounded or psychologically devastated as a result of evictions, foreclosures, job losses, and other forms of financial distress over the last years. Nor will President Obama head back to Elkhart, or anywhere else for that matter, to attend a memorial service to the fallen from this less spectacular, but far deadlier bloodbath. As a result of the inattention, and despite ever rosier economic predictions and a surging stock market, the body count from the economic crisis is destined only to grow in the weeks and months ahead.