Bobby Hull is a Vietnam veteran, who served in the U.S. Marine Corps. In two months, in the middle of February, he will also be evicted from his home. Occupy Minneapolis hopes to prevent the eviction by occupying his home as they have in two other cases. On Tuesday, they rallied with Bobby Hull as part of Occupy Wall Street’s National Day of Action Against Home Foreclosures. (Video and story from The Uptake below.)
The crowd of people gathered in the cold in front of Bobby Hull’s house in Minneapolis on December 6. A few carried signs, but many more simply used their voices.
“Whose house?” asked spokesperson Mel Reeves.
“Bobby’s house!” chanted the crowd.
“Come here and let’s unite,” Hull said as part of his message to other homeowners who are facing foreclosure. “Fight for your house.”
He added, “I don’t think any American should be homeless.”
Hull’s mother bought the house in 1968, and Hull has lived there ever since. When he received the title to the house, he made regular payments until heart attacks and surgeries him to fall behind.
Hull described himself as a cornerstone in the neighborhood. His home is a central place in the neighborhood where neighbors can borrow tools and ask for help with home projects. Hull’s nine brothers and sisters and extended family have also used the home to help them make it through hard times.
His mother was a foster mom who raised children irrespective of their skin color. Steven Douglas was one such foster child, but the closeness of the family became clear with the ease with which Hull introduced Douglas as “my brother.”
Steven Douglas attended the rally with his wife, Pam Douglas. They are also facing foreclosure. While they expressed concerns about how much help Occupy Minneapolis was really able to provide Hull and other homeowners in the same position, they did hope that the action being taken would indeed save Hull’s house.
A number of people spoke at the rally, including Nick Muhammad with Neighborhoods Organizing for Change, Maren McDonell with the Harrison Neighborhood Association, Monique White, and Hull’s niece, Kristel Porter. The speakers shared a similar message: unity in the fight against foreclosures.
“We as a nation have to stick together to support each other,” said Monique White. “We can’t keep letting the banks take our homes from us.”
Nick Muhammad first applauded the efforts of Occupy Minneapolis against foreclosures. The country was watching Minnesota, he said. He also made an analogy between banks and the armed forces charge to never leave a man behind. “When it comes to banks, the taxpayers were the first to bail them out.” he said. “Then they left us behind.” He referred to Hull and highlighted Hull’s service to his country. Even though Hull fought for his country, Muhammad said, the banks have “left him literally in the cold.”
A neighbor, Tommy Russell, said that he had visited Hull’s home since 1969. He gave an impassioned plea for letters to the state representatives and encouraged everyone to join in the fight against foreclosures.
Muhammad echoed the sentiment. “We need to let people know that they’re not alone,” he said.
Participants in the rally had different reasons for coming and for supporting Hull and Occupy Minneapolis. Nikki LaSorella, who has done social justice work for many years, said that she liked that young people were taking the charge.
Although the rally was ostensibly about saving Hull’s house, it was also about awareness. Another participant, Peter Brown from the Minnesota Tenants Union, highlighted the importance of putting a human face on foreclosures and banks. “The foreclosure crisis is often faceless and nameless,” Brown said. “It’s the banks making decisions that pushes people out—real people making real decisions that causes this nonsense.”
In the coming weeks, Occupy Minneapolis has planned a weekly neighborhood forum to occur at Hull’s house. Hull was excited about all the activity, and he identified his situation as part of a problem facing many people throughout the country.
“This is just a start,” he said. “This isn’t my house. This is our house. And this is our country and we all need to stay in our homes. This isn’t just for me. This is for everybody.”
“Banks leave homeowners out in the cold”
by Jacob Wheeler, THE UPTAKE
Marines like Bobby Hull go into battle with a motto that they won’t leave any of their fallen comrades behind. But Neighborhoods Organizing for Change (NOC) activist Nick Muhammed pointed out the irony that when the banks stumbled during the height of the financial crisis, it was American taxpayers who came to their rescue and bailed them out. Now those same banks are leaving citizens literally out in the cold.
On a bone-chilling cold day in Minneapolis, more than a hundred activists from NOC and Occupy MN rallied in front of Hull’s home in South Minneapolis, which Bank of America foreclosed on and sold to U.S. Bank. Hull, a Vietnam veteran and the newest catalyst for the local Occupy foreclosed homes effort, could find himself out in the cold by February, if it weren’t for the movement budding all around him. Monique White’s foreclosed home in North Minneapolis was also occupied by solidarity activists one month ago.
“You take an oath that you’re going to protect your country foreign and domestic,” said Hull, who invited his new home defenders inside for homemade seafood gumbo and hot tea following the rally. “And as far as I’m concerned, this is domestic. We need to fight right here in the United States for our rights again. It’s what our forefathers put down in the Constitution.”
Hull’s home occupation story is already drawing nationwide media attention. MSNBC’s Ed Schultz, the Huffington Post and AOL Real Estate have all featured him since The UpTake ran this interview with the former Marine on Sunday. Meanwhile yesterday, thousands of activists in favor of occupying foreclosed homes held simultaneous rallies in New York and in Washington, D.C., and President Obama struck a populist chord that seemed to appeal to the “99 percent” with his Theodore Roosevelt-ian appeal to “New Nationalism” yesterday in Osawatomie, Kansas.
All in all, it was an inspiring day for the growing Occupy movement.