Frances Fox Piven Offers Advice on Occupying Foreclosed Homes

  • CUNY Prof. Frances Fox Piven gave a recent talk laying out new, radical plans for the Occupy movement
  • According to her, the movement has to relocate, change tactics 
  • Public sociologists should help students “refuse to pay their debts” and avoid consequences when they default
  • Academia should also assist in the reoccupation of foreclosed homes
  • Occupy should exert “pressure” so that the illegal occupation of homes become legal ownership by occupiers
  • Occupy should even figure out how to get the “utilities running” in illegally occupied buildings

The radical organizers of the Occupy movement are becoming notably desperate in their strategies for disruption. And as the movement continues to try to remain relevant, longtime Occupy cheerleader and radical CUNY professor Frances Fox Piven has offered her advice for some of Occupy’s most radical tactics.  In a Skype interview with UC-Berkeley students recently, Piven seemed to offer a game plan by expanding on illegal, and possibly dangerous, actions the movement has toyed with before.

Piven began by admitting to the classroom that Occupy should look beyond camping in city parks.

“My vision of the Occupy movement is that– well, I think it should find some new spaces,” she conceded. “I think Occupy has to relocate, occupy some other spaces.  Maybe it’s — it doesn’t have to be in Wall Street – it could be a university building.”

Piven proceeded to expand the idea of not paying back debt, an idea that’s been at the forefront of the movement since the beginning: “Here’s something public sociologists could do – I think we need to figure out exactly how students can protect themselves against reprisals if they refuse to pay their debts.  How can they protect themselves against having their wages garnished?”

Frances Fox Piven Offers Advice on Occupying Foreclosed Homes

But defaulting on student debt was just the start. Piven also offered advice (by asking strategic questions) on the recent practice of occupying private residences: “How can we defend if the reoccupation of foreclosed homes grows in scale? How can we defend those houses that are occupied?  How can we exert enough pressure so that the occupations become legal ownership?  I think– there are real, big strategy questions.”

Piven went into detail on the subject, and the complications associated with squatting on private property”

“In the occupation of homes, we have to figure out how to provide services, how to reconnect utilities often.  Or if what we’re doing is we are defending people who are occupying multi-family apartments in big cities, we have to figure out how to get the services running in those buildings.  And they, if the landlords, the new predatory equity landlords, had not succeeded in forcing them out — but once that stage is reached, the tenants have to figure out alternate ways of providing services to the building — heat and hot water, things like that.”

Watch the comments to the classroom below:

The Blaze’s Erica Ritz contributed to this report.