Response to Times Free Press article

Mercy Junction Pastor Brian Merritt’s response to the Times Free Press article Time runs out for one Chattanooga man; CNE pushes last of TARP foreclosure prevention funds”

Individually, and on behalf of Mercy Junction and Occupy Chattanooga, I take exception to the article “Time runs out for one Chattanooga man; CNE pushes last of TARP foreclosure prevention funds,” published on Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013 in the Chattanooga Times Free Press. The article is incomplete, making it inaccurate. It leaves the impression that Robert Smith was evicted from his home on Tuesday, which is not what happened.

I along with others from Mercy Junction and Occupy Chattanooga were at Robert’s home from 8 a.m. until after noon on Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2013. Times Free Press reporter Ellis Smith was present nearly all of this time as well, including when Robert regained access to his home. This is why we can’t understand why so many significant events are omitted from the coverage and why the article leads to an utterly false conclusion about what happened.

What ultimately happened was that the process server and Chattanooga Police Officer Eric Milchak concluded FSG Bank had illegally locked Robert out of the house. With police protection, a locksmith opened the house. Robert now has possession of his home and the key to the front door. Ellis Smith went into the house and walked through it with Robert.

Robert’s fight continues. Time has not run out.

In addition, Robert filed a complaint against FSG Bank for the illegal lockout. Officer Milchak took the report. Ellis Smith was aware that the police report was filed and asked Officer Milchak when his report would be available. It is troubling that, while the Times Free Press doesn’t hesitate to publish the names of every unfortunate person who faces foreclosure in Chattanooga and the surrounding counties (and has a substantial revenue source from publishing these notices), it failed to report this instance in which a homeowner filed a complaint against a bank for its illegal action.

The story was one of a David-and-Goliath battle in which a single individual stood up to the banks and won, two days before Thanksgiving. This was not a story of defeat, as the article seems to want readers to believe, but a story of victory, a story of community and a story of solidarity in the face of great odds.


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