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Occupy Homes: Will Taking the Fight to Foreclosed Houses Unleash More Police Violence?

Some worry that camping on private property may invite more extreme police attacks.

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Max Rameau, who helped found the group, tells AlterNet it's the banks that are occupying homes, while groups like TBL "liberate them for use by human beings." The group brings lots of bodies to its actions, says Rameau, so "police have difficult decisions to make. What are they willing to do on camera?"

Protesters affiliated with the group take over a piece of property, refurbish it and move a family in. Their efforts are usually met with support by neighbors, says Rameau. Or they'll rally protesters to come to the aid of someone about to get kicked out of their home, forming human chains to keep out the sheriff's deputies charged with carrying out the eviction. 

The group has been successful in getting speedy foreclosures and evictions a second look. They help elderly people who may have been preyed upon by the big banks, raising hell on their lawns until the media show up. If enough media attention lands on the case, a local politician will occasionally get involved and personally oversee negotiations between residents and banks. 

Rameau says that although the actions often lead to arrests, police are generally mindful of the optics of manhandling octogenarians in the age of cell phone cameras. However, he believes that if the tactics of "occupying" property continue to grow, in part thanks to actions taken by the Occupy movement, we'd likely see more extreme efforts by law enforcement to shut them down.

"We expect as we take back land, and it grows in number and size, and the impact on banks becomes bigger ... the finance industry to push the government to crack down." The government, he argues, is likely to oblige. "We are fully expecting a crackdown to come."

Tana Ganeva is AlterNet's managing editor. Follow her on Twitter or email her at tana@alternet.org.

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