- Alex Garland
- FIGHTING FORECLOSURE Vietnam veteran Byron Barton raises a fist as paramedics unload him from an ambulance that sheriffs' deputies had called to take him away.
"I've worked all my life and I've served my country for four years," said Vietnam veteran Byron Barton this morning, as police officers and paramedics attempted to carry him into ambulance, while protesters blocked their way. "I want to stay in my home," he told KIRO 7.
Barton is disabled, but wasn't sick or immediately in need of an ambulance. King County Sheriff Sergeant DB Gates says the sheriffs wanted to enforce an eviction order and get Barton out of the house, and the idea was to transport him to the Veterans Affairs hospital on Beacon Hill "just to help him out...we really wanted to get him hooked up to some medical services."
Sergeant Gates said the Sheriff's office does evictions "every day," but that this is the first time they encountered protesters since last year's eviction blockade—also by the group Standing Against Foreclosure and Eviction (SAFE)—at the home of South Park construction worker Jeremy Griffin, who was at today's eviction blockade.
Activists accuse the Seattle City Council of abandoning thousands of Seattle residents facing foreclosures by banks, which often refuse to negotiate loan modifications with struggling homeowners or mislead them.
The slideshow below, courtesy of freelance photographer Alex Garland, shows what happened. Ultimately, Gates acknowledges, the sheriffs gave up trying to get the protesters out of the way of the ambulance and put Barton back on the street outside the home.
The King County Sheriff deputies changed the locks, but Barton and his wife, Jean Barton, who works for the homeless agency Mary's Place, reportedly found a way back inside his bedroom. As of right now, SAFE activist Bryce Phillips tells me by phone that Seattle police officers are outside the home and it "looks like they’ll probably make a try" to evict Barton again. "Byron and everybody is ready to do another blockade if they do." He says there are twenty people there, including state house candidate Jess Spear.