‘When We Said Zero Eviction January, We Meant It’

Melissa, a new leader with KC Tenants, speaks out at the January 28 court blockade. Photo by Carly Rosin.

PTLN 2.2.20

‘When We Said Zero Eviction January, We Meant It’

This  article by KC Tenants is reprinted with permission. 

Please visit  https://www.facebook.com/kctenants

On Thursday January 28, the 16th Circuit Court of Jackson County resumed evictions after a two week moratorium. The Courts scheduled 152 eviction hearings for the day.

But when we said Zero Eviction January, we meant Zero Eviction January.

KC Tenants stopped 136 of Thursday’s evictions through direct action. Around 80 KC Tenants leaders blockaded two sets of doors outside the downtown courthouse, while nine KC Tenants leaders orchestrated a disruption inside, and over 50 allies disrupted online evictions in the morning and afternoon. By 3pm, KC Tenants had intervened in most of the scheduled evictions, delaying them for at least several weeks, and some well into March.

“I’m a certified nursing assistant, working full time, and things are hard right now. Really hard. I don’t know where I would go if I was evicted. Today my eviction was delayed till mid-February, thanks to a blockade outside,” said Diamond, a tenant facing eviction last Thursday. “I never knew there were people out there that helped you like this. It helps a lot.”

KC Tenants declared this month Zero Eviction January, a sustained month of actions to end evictions. Here are the outcomes from our month of action: 

  • Week 1: KC Tenants blocked over 323 evictions through blockades and disruptions on January 5 and January 7.
  • Week 2: KC Tenants won a temporary eviction moratorium from Presiding Judge Dale Youngs, halting evictions for two weeks, delaying 395 evictions.
  • Week 3:KC Tenants expanded to Clay County, disrupting 27 evictions on January 20.
  • Week 4:Because of KC Tenants’ planned disruption, Clay County delayed at least 30 evictions on January 27. KC Tenants blocked 136 of the 152 scheduled evictions in Jackson County on January 28.

In total, KC Tenants stopped over 911 scheduled eviction hearings in January. KC Tenants successfully delayed over 90% of the eviction hearings scheduled in Jackson County this month.

We met tenants like Kenneth, Dom, Jailin, Keyona, Anthony, John, Leslie, and Diamond. With them, we exercised collective power to confront an inherently violent system. Every single day of January, KC Tenants mucked up a process designed to oppress, buying time for tenants as COVID rates spiked and the weather dropped below freezing.

“Presiding Judge Dale Youngs has the power to end evictions. He is choosing not to. KC Tenants has tried to meet with Judge Youngs. He has failed to respond to our request. Unfortunately we are left with no other choice than to revolt against this peace, to shut down this violent system that is harming us and our people,” said Jenay Manley, a leader with KC Tenants. 

Using power, builds power. Our base grew and developed in the past month. Our tenant meetings regularly drew over 70+ leaders for two hours of strategy on Saturdays. Our daily actions involved over 465 leaders and allies. A team of 50+ leaders took on new roles and stepped up to lead teams and orchestrate actions.

In the weeks to come, we will share reflections, lessons, and tools from Zero Eviction January, our monthlong structure test. Stay tuned.

Our collective is stronger than ever, and ready to struggle forward towards the world we deserve.

Donate to KC Tenants at https://kctenants.org/donate


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