Occupy Homes demands Minneapolis cops follow protocols

Occupy Homes is calling for the Minneapolis Police Department to follow its own foreclosure protest protocol, which requires a number of steps before people can be arrested. The demand that police follow their own rules came after seven people occupying vacant houses were arrested within 10 days in March. On April 1st, Occupy held a rally in downtown Minneapolis and marched on the offices of Police Chief and City Attorney Susan Segal, where protesters placed the boards the police had used to board homes reclaimed by Occupy Houses.

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Video: ‘Board up banks, not our home’

Occupy Homes along with members of the community placed large wooden boards over the doors at the Minneapolis Police Department and the City Attorneys office, giving them a taste of what’s been happening to folks going through foreclosure. Over the past two weeks the Minneapolis Police Department has come down hard on people who are reclaiming vacant homes. Those arrested weren’t given a chance to depart the premises, as has been the case for others in this situation. Protestors want to know what’s behind the more aggressive law enforcement stance recently and how come no bankers have been arrested or prosecuted for leaving communities in shambles. Continue Reading

COMMUNITY VOICES | Idle No More- Occupy MN- AIM Protest at Canadian Consulate in Minneapolis. The Untold Story- Till Now

First Nation protestors attacked by Mountied Police in Canada. Armed mercenaries at sacred Native American site in nothern Wisconsin. Idle No More rally and protest in Minneapolis at Canadian Consulate in response. If you have no idea about this you are easily forgiven. You see there is a virtual corporate media blockade on these stories and others like it. Continue Reading

Inside Occupy Homes: Serious business mixes with fun and games

Foreclosures are down significantly in the Twin Cities. In the metro area, foreclosure rates dropped 33 percent during the last year, indicating a strong housing recovery fueled by a mending economy and changes in banking laws. But for those whose homes have already been seized, these statistics aren’t much help. The laws still favor the banks and so far, getting many banks to negotiate in good faith isn’t easy. When you’re facing foreclosure, having people who can help you fight back sometimes makes all the difference.That’s why Sergio Ceballos and his family called on Occupy Homes, a local branch of the Occupy movement that works to stop foreclosures. Continue Reading

COMMUNITY VOICES | Home Sweet Home

This could be a story about unbridled greed. Or about making money without regard to consequences.  Perhaps, it is a tale that simply exemplifies responsible real estate investing as defined by Chris Gleize of Northern Value Group. Chris figures large as a protagonist in this drama.  But I will let you, the reader,  draw your own conclusions.  A good percentage of the information provided in this story comes from public  court documents. Other information was provided by Mr. Gleize’s attorney and the homeowner who is now subject to immediate eviction.   Nafeesah a strong, middle aged woman who has lived in single family four bedroom house since 1991 is the other major player in this unfolding narrative.  Just down the block from from Lake Street, it has stood in its present location since 1904! Continue Reading

Push for anti-foreclosure legislation wins abbreviated homeowner “Bill of Rights”

When the 2013 legislative session began, Minnesota anti-foreclosure groups and progressive lawmakers hoped to draft a powerful law that would hold banks and lenders accountable and enable homeowners to sue financial institutions if they misstepped. What they got was a watered-down bill that the banks approved after being deeply involved in the negotiating process.To some observers, the process proved, once again, the power that money holds at the State Capitol.Nevertheless, homeowner advocacy groups walked away declaring victory. They got a ban on “dual tracking” and a private right of action for homeowners. A third objective, mandatory mediation between banks and homeowners in danger of losing their homes, was a casualty of the banks’ involvement in drafting the legislation. Mediation, however, could re-emerge as an issue in next year’s legislative session.Compromise or no compromise, Golden Valley homeowner Rose McGee celebrated her birthday on May 28 with a soulful breakfast of grits and biscuits together with a handful of friends and fellow activists who, over the past year, helped her take on CitiBank — and Minnesota lawmakers — to keep her home.McGee’s struggle, chronicled along the way by The UpTake, played out in neighborhoods, synagogues, churches, banks and, ultimately, at the State Capitol before she reached a deal in May with CitiMortgage and Fannie Mae. Continue Reading

COMMUNITY VOICES | Brother Ali visits student protesters at Macalester College

Minnesota-based hip hop artist, Brother Ali, made an impromptu visit to a group of student activists protesting the administration’s relationship with Wells Fargo bank on Wednesday. Brother Ali, who continues to be active in the Occupy Homes MN movement, spoke to the students on the steps of Weyerhaeuser, Macalester College’s administrative building.The contingent of student protesters is associated with Occupy Homes MN and opposes the college’s partnership with Wells Fargo due to the bank’s foreclosure practices. The students launched a sit-in earlier this week, occupying the administrative building since 10 a.m., Tuesday.“What we’re really supposed to be doing is educating leaders for the future,” said Ali of higher education, “so what you’re doing is exactly what you’re supposed to be doing.”He added, “Students were the bulk of energy in the civil rights movement; students ended the war in Vietnam effectively; students have done a whole lot throughout time, and so this is a part of a legacy that you’re adding onto.”The student group brought their grievances to the attention of the administration months ago, beginning a yearlong dialogue about potential divestment from Wells Fargo and a reallocation of funds to a community bank. Dissatisfied with the pace of reform, the students issued a deadline to the administration for a final decision to be announced on Thursday, April 18.In response to the demands Macalester CFO, David Wheaton and Assistant Vice President for Finance, Kate Walker released a memo on behalf of the administration describing in detail their reasons for maintaining their business with Wells Fargo. While accurate data is difficult to access, they acknowledged that Wells Fargo may be the biggest forecloser in the state of Minnesota, but added that this may be a factor of Wells Fargo’s large market share, as opposed to a matter of aggressive policies particular to the bank.The memo noted that 70% of Wells Fargo’s mortgages are owned by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and that those institutions are responsible for setting policy regarding foreclosure. Continue Reading

South Minneapolis grandmother spared eviction by Occupy campaign

After a public pressure campaign led by Occupy Homes MN ’s Foreclosure and Eviction Free Zone, Gayle Lindsey, a nursing assistant and grandmother in South Minneapolis who was facing imminent eviction, has won an 11th-hour loan modification on her mortgage from M&T Bank. Lindsey bought the home in 2001 and was given an adjustable-rate loan that rose by a few hundred dollars last year.“I was struggling, but I still paid, it,” she said. But, last year, hours on her second job were cut from 30 per week to only five, and she found that she was unable to afford her monthly payments.Early last year, she said, M&T Bank, based in Buffalo, New York, sent a letter threatening foreclosure. More letters, these from the bank’s lawyers, followed. She began seeing a credit counselor, hoping to get a loan modification, but she couldn’t find the paperwork the bank wanted.“I never talked with anyone at the bank,” she said. Continue Reading

Thirteen arrested in anti-foreclosure protest at Wells Fargo

Thirteen people were peacefully arrested at Wells Fargo Home Mortgage on 26th Street Feb. 27 demanding turnover of vacant homes to community control and fair banking practices.A march of about 200 people, organized by Occupy Homes MN, Neighborhoods Organizing for Change and allies from faith and labor communities, began at the home of Gayle Lindsey, fighting her foreclosure with Occupy Homes and her neighbors in the Foreclosure and Eviction Free Zone in the Central Neighborhood. It proceeded to Jessica English’s reclaimed vacant home, which had turned into a drug house after being abandoned by Wells Fargo.Jessica, a single mom of four experiencing homelessness, has rehabilitated the house with Occupy Homes as a place to raise her children.“As a homeless mom, it’s sickening to see all the vacant homes Wells Fargo owns that attract crime in Minneapolis,” Jessica told the crowd. “Wells Fargo abandoned this home, letting it turn into a drug house that brought blight on the community.Now the community has come together to welcome my family home and demand that Wells Fargo turn over vacant homes to community control for affordable housing. We are restoring what Wells Fargo destroyed.”From there, the crowd of 200 took the streets and marched through the gates of Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, where they were joined by a heavy police presence.They brought 20 bags of trash cleaned up from neglected vacant homes, demanding Wells Fargo clean up their own mess. Continue Reading