“Occupy MN, Tear Down the Wall of Wall Street”

In early November, Occupy MN and a host of Twin Cities activist organizations began occupying Monique White’s foreclosed home in North Minneapolis. The public relations department at U.S. Bank, which now owns the house, reached out to the activists to hear their concerns.

That emboldened Occupy MN, which this weekend occupied another home — this time in South Minneapolis, and this one owned by a Hungarian immigrant and University of Minnesota professor named Sára Kaiser. Her neighborhood and ethnic background is different from that of Monique White, but their foreclosed home stories are similar. For them, the American dream turned into the American nightmare.

“It’s almost the holidays, and (the banks) don’t care that we’re homeless,” White told a rally in front of Kaiser’s home. “They’re gonna have their Thanksgiving dinners and their families together for the holidays, but where does that leave us and our families?

“If we can occupy homes all over the world, then maybe we can stop the banks from taking people’s homes!”

The Minneapolis police department launched two raids on Kaiser’s home at 3334 25th Ave. South. On Saturday night, just hours after the occupation began, they succeeded in arresting two activists, but a reinforced team of 150 demonstrators locked arms and prevented the vastly outnumbered officers from entering the building. Then on Sunday, 22 hours after the rally outside Kaiser’s home that marked the beginning of the occupation, the police returned with over a dozen squad cars, a firetruck and a city bus in case they needed to make mass arrests. This time they caught the activists by surprise, kicked in the door, and succeeded in evicting the occupiers and boarding up Sára Kaiser’s foreclosed home.

According to Occupy MN activist Nick Espinosa, the police didn’t have a warrant and said they didn’t need one, before they kicked in the front door. Nevertheless, Espinosa added that if law enforcement learned anything from Oakland and Manhattan and other resilient occupations, “we’re going to come back stronger.”

The 150 Occupy MN demonstrators who locked arms to prevent the police raid on Saturday night chanted “You can’t evict us all!” They chanted the same words on Sunday as they stood passively on the sidewalk while police boarded up Kaiser’s home.

Jacob Wheeler

In addition to shooting videos for The UpTake, Jacob Wheeler is a contributing editor at the progressive political magazine In These Times, publishes the Glen Arbor Sun in his native Michigan, and authored "Between Light and Shadow," a recent book about the Guatemalan adoption industry. Wheeler's stories have appeared in such magazines as the Utne Reader, Earth Island Journal, Rotarian and Teaching Tolerance magazine, and newspapers including the San Francisco Chronicle and Christian Science Monitor. He speaks fluent Spanish, German and Danish.

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