Minneapolis, MN - The Minneapolis City Attorney is ramping up repression to try to stop the months-long campaign to resist the foreclosure of Alejandra and David Cruz’s family home at 4044 Cedar Avenue South. In an ominous development, at least three of the dozens of people arrested in defending the home from foreclosure are now being retroactively charged with third degree riot, obstructing legal process, disorderly conduct and presence at an unlawful assembly, in addition to their original trespass charge. The third degree riot charge alone could mean a year in jail and $3000 fine.
The protest where these specific arrests took place was on May 30 during one of the Minneapolis Police Department’s several attempts to clear out occupiers and evict the Cruz family on behalf of PNC Bank, which owns the home mortgage. That massive police operation and arrests took place less than 24 hours after Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak had tried to appear sympathetic to the anti-foreclosure movement by saying, “the City is not in the foreclosure business.”
For several months, Occupy Homes MN has mobilized hundreds of people to occupy and defend the Cruz home while building pressure nationally on PNC Bank, demanding that they negotiate to allow the Cruz family to keep their home. The Minneapolis police repeatedly returned to the home to try to dislodge the occupiers and were repeatedly rebuffed through mass civil disobedience. After the police finally succeeded in ejecting the occupiers and locking down the home, there was a mass civil disobedience action on June 21, where 13 more people were arrested, including hip hop artist Brother Ali.
According to a statement from Occupy Homes MN, “These charges are a clear and disgraceful attempt to suppress the Occupy Homes movement and ‘make an example’ of anti-foreclosure organizers who were arrested while non-violently protesting an unjust eviction. City Attorney Susan Segal, appointed by Mayor RT Rybak, has also made it a point to aggressively prosecute other political defendants, including a group arrested while protesting US Bank’s foreclosure practices last fall … This attempt to silence and stifle anti-foreclosure organizing will not deter us from fighting for our homes, our families, our neighbors, and our futures.”
Donations for legal defense of the people arrested defending the Cruz home can be made here: https://www.wepay.com/occupyhomesmn
More information on the fight to defend the Cruz home: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c_6Kz8MIpns