by: Richard Elliot Updated:ATLANTA —
The leader of the Occupy Our Homes Atlanta movement got knocked down during a protest outside the Fulton County Courthouse on Tuesday morning, as dozens of lawyers auctioned off foreclosure properties.
Tim Franzen was not hurt and did not press charges against an unidentified man who knocked him to the ground during the demonstration. The man maintained he simply tripped over one of OOHA displays and fell into Franzen. Deputies led the man away and questioned him but later released him.
OOHA protestors were there to demonstrate against private equity firms they say are buying up foreclosures around metro Atlanta and turning them into rental properties. They claim those companies hope to drive up property values, then will dump them back onto the market, essentially creating another housing bubble and crash.
"They claim that this is helping the market recover," said protestor Rob Call. "But it's helping the market recover without people in the homes."
Onlookers remarked this was one of the largest foreclosure auctions they've seen on the Fulton County Courthouse steps in a long time. Deputies worked with property buyers and protestors trying to keep the peace. As one deputy spoke with Franzen about wanting to keep both sides safe, the unidentified man knocked Franzen to the sidewalk. While some protestors wanted deputies to arrest the man, property buyers rushed to his defense.
"That's an overreaction," said Malik Kolsawaln, who was there to buy properties on behalf of a company. "That's an old man, and he tumbled. Next thing you know, the guy's falling down, and the guy is trying to make an issue about it."
Deputies moved in to clear the sidewalk enough that people could get through.
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