A sit-in continues in the home of Rosemary Williams in South Minneapolis. Williams’ home has been foreclosed on, eviction has been ordered, and the sheriff’s deputies arrived to evict her on Friday. Her home has been the focus of continuing protests over foreclosures and evictions (see sidebar articles.)
Correction, 8/13/09: It’s Angel Buechner, not Angel Givner.
On Sunday, Williams was in high spirits, after packing all day Saturday and Sunday.
“I’m hopeful. God is good,” Williams said. “Everything’s the divine order. Still hopeful things will work out. We have to have faith. Especially on Sunday.”
Other articles on Rosemary Williams foreclosure and eviction
Williams ordered to leave foreclosed home; supporters vow to stay by Madeleine Baran, MPR, August 7, 2009
Embattled homeowner has seven days to vacate foreclosed residence by Paul Demko, Minnesota Independent, June 18, 2009
Taking it to court in Minneapolis: Fight against foreclosure and eviction by Madeleine Baran, TC Daily Planet, May 26, 2009
Birthday eviction hearing for Minneapolis woman by Madeleine Baran, TC Daily Planet, April 22, 2009
Stopping foreclosure: One woman’s home by Madeleine Baran, TC Daily Planet, March 31, 2009
Angel Buechner, a volunteer with MN Coalition of People’s Bailout (MCPB) and also with the Welfare Rights Committee, said Council Member Elizabeth Glidden spoke to Williams on Friday. Buechner said Glidden had promised Williams that the sheriff would not evict her until Monday, but within an hour of Williams’s conversation with Glidden, the sherriff’s department showed up to evict her. Buechner said MCPB and other activists are pressuring GMAC, Williams’s mortgage company, to let Williams stay in her home. She said people should call GMAC and ask to speak to the CEO, Alvaro de Molina at 215-734-8899.
When the sheriff showed up on Friday, the officers told Williams, her son and daughter-in-law, along with their two infant children that they had exactly fifteen minutes to gather whatever belongings they could, according to Buechner.
Within an hour after the sheriff’s deputies left, activists showed up at the house, broke in, and continued to help Williams gather her belongings. Rosemary’s things were placed in various homes in the neighborhood, including one neighbor, Hussein, who offered use of his empty garage, according to Linden Gawboy of MCPB.
According to Buechner, there were 100 people at the house helping to pack and clean, with fifty people staying overnight. Buechner said she herself stayed over on Friday night, guarding the front door in case the cops showed up. According a number of sit-in participants, police cars have been periodically circling the house, but as of early Sunday evening, no arrests had been made. Buechner said around 20 people stayed overnight on Saturday night.
“They changed her lock at a quarter to two [on Friday afternoon],” Gawboy said. Soon after, “Someone opened the door from the inside,” said Gawboy, after which supporters went inside and helped move her things outside so it could be put into storage. “It was 60 years’ worth of things,” she said.
Brian Finstad, who lives down the street from Williams, wrote on his Facebook wall Friday night: “Screams and chants of civil disobedience coming in my windows. An older woman who has lived on my block for 50 years is being evicted from her home due to foreclosure and activists are protesting. They already broke back into the house and took it over after the sheriff left. News cameras all over my block. Wonder how long this will go on? How will it end?”
Finstad also wrote: “Rosemary (my neighbor) grew up poor and she and her mother RENTED on our block for 30 years. Then she bought and payed a mortgage for 20 years. I don’t know the circumstances around her situation, but she took out a second mortgage (that was adjustable rate) and when it “adjusted” her payment then doubled. I have seen so many people move … Inner city neighborhoods and people of color in particular were hit really hard with adjustable rate mortgages resetting. I have had 8 houses on my block boarded.”
On Friday, August 7, TC IndyMedia observers reported from the scene, and called for support:
4PM Friday: Approximately eight Hennepin County sheriff’s deputies unexpectedly arrived at Rosemary Williams’ home at 3128 Clinton Avenue around 2pm this afternoon, accompanied by four men presumably representing GMAC Mortgage. All took photos of the inside of the house and garage; deputies installed a new lock on the garage and posted “no trespassing” notices on all doors. They ordered supporters to leave the property, but did not enforce their order. After some activists sat down on the front porch locking arms, one deputy pulled out his can of chemical spray. Soon thereafter, however, all the sheriffs and GMAC representatives left the property in their unmarked vehicles, leaving the gathered supporters to wonder what will happen next.
8:15PM Update: Free food and music have arrived and the atmosphere is festive as some people plan to stay the night. Reports are that councilwoman Glidden spoke to a city inspector who claimed that no action would be taken tonight; however, Glidden was also told that no eviction attempt would occur today, just one hour before the sheriffs came. Rosemary Williams is apparently staying at a neighbor’s house tonight; beginning early Saturday, help is needed particularly in the form of vans and people to help move belongings.
On National Night Out, August 4, there were two block parties taking place between 31st and 32nd Street and Clinton for National Night Out. One took place in front of Rosemary William’s house, near 32nd Street, which was decorated with signs of support for her ongoing fight against foreclosure. The other party, near 31st street, was organized by Brian Finstad. Finstad said the organizers of both parties were encouraging people to float between the two. He said since the Williams’s party, which was sponsored by the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign (PPEHRC), had a more political focus, he wanted to have a more laid back party. There was plenty of fun on both sides of the block, though. Flo Razowsky, a volunteer with PPEHRC said the block parties were a way to “bring fun to the movement”, and to encourage community. Here’s a video interview with Rosemary Williams and supporters from August 4:
Rosemary Williams and others talk about the block party and about her home and neighborhood and solidarity.