Continuing actions planned following 5 eviction attempts and 23 arrests in the past week
We are reposting this press release from Occupy Homes MN as an important update to an inspiring week of action and violent police repression. Two members of Socialist Alternative (CWI supporters in the US), Nick Shillingford and Jessica Davis, were among those arrested last night. At a press conference held at noon today, Occupy Homes announced plans again attempt to re-occupy the Cruz family home tomorrow at 2pm.
OccupyHomesMN: 14 Arrested at Cruz Home, Vowing Needless Foreclosure "Stops Here"
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — Contact:
Nick Espinosa 612-432-8888
Martha Ockenfels-Martinez 612-819-1203
Community members will hold 12 pm press conference at City Hall to condemn Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak’s use of public resources to defend the banks, joined by other homeowners facing foreclosure who have taken a pledge not to leave their homes.
In the latest incident in an ongoing showdown, officers violently arrested occupiers peacefully defending the Cruz family home from foreclosure Wednesday night. Fourteen were arrested defending 4044 Cedar Avenue Wednesday night, only 24 hours after Mayor Rybak’s office, facing mounting public pressure, issued a news release declaring "the City is not in the foreclosure business." In the statement, City Attorney Susan Segal is quoted saying "The City plays a limited role to protect public safety. The property is the responsibility of its owner… In this case, the City has fulfilled its legal obligation to secure the property."
"We hoped Mayor Rybak would stick to his word, but today’s police violence shows Rybak and his police protect and serve the banks, not our communities," said Martha Ockenfels-Martinez, an organizer with Occupy Homes MN and representative of the Cruz family. The 14 arrests Wednesday at the Cruz home bring this week’s total to 23 during 5 eviction attempts.
At 8:45PM, over 100 people gathered to link arms around the Cruz family home, sitting peaceably singing "We Shall Not Be Moved." By approximately 9:30PM, occupiers had reclaimed the Cruz home.
Around 10:30PM, dozens of police returned in full force, many wielding four-foot batons, and closed off the entire block around Cedar Avenue. Several officers, including Police Chief Tim Dolan, trampled over the eight protesters sitting down and linking arms on the front steps of the home. During this time dozens of protesters gathered in the front and back yard linking arms around the Cruz family home. A police line shoved the protesters linking arms in the front yard down the hill to the sidewalk. The protesters linking arms sang and chanted "It stops here" before the 8 protesters sitting on the front steps of the house were violently arrested. One police officer head-locked Occupy Homes organizer Nick Espinosa, who was sitting on the top of the steps, throwing him down on his back and dragging him inside the front door of the house in the arrest.
“The banks are stealing our homes through illegal and fraudulent practices while refusing to work with families, and they are aided and abetted by the mayor and police," said Espinosa, who was released on bail early this morning. "If anyone should be arrested it’s the bankers that crashed our economy while paying themselves record bonuses with our tax dollars."
Around 11:30PM, after further threats of arrests from the MPD, protesters decided to relocate outside of the Hennepin County Jail in solidarity with the protesters arrested. At this point four more were arrested from the public sidewalk and streets as they were trying to leave, including one who was arrested as he was unlocking his bike.
Freddie Mac, the current holder of the Cruz family’s mortgage, hired 24/7 private security who called the police to enforce the raid Wednesday night, though PNC Bank, which originally held the Cruz loan, has repeatedly assured the family that they are working to resolve the issue.
At a press conference following the Sheriff Department’s second raid last Friday, City Council Members Gary Schiff, Elizabeth Glidden, and Cam Gordon came to show their support and speak out about the violent, unjust eviction of the Cruz family home. “I stand with you in calling on Hennepin County to suspend the breaking down of more doors and the breaking in of more homes of families in this community,” said City Council Member Gary Schiff. “There is no excuse to resort to this kind of violence to put the wealth back in the hands of banks.”
For raw video footage of the arrests, check out the following links: