Occupy-Backed Homeowner Monique White Seeks Jury Trial

Embattled homeowner Monique White took one more step Friday toward what could become an improbable victory that would let her stay in her North Minneapolis home. At Hennepin County Housing Court, Judge Mark Labine granted White’s legal team a one-week extension in their defense against mortgage holder Freddie Mac. Next Monday, Labine will likely decide whether White will lose her home, or whether she’ll get a jury trial in District Court — which means that her fate will be up to White’s fellow citizens.

“We want the facts to be decided by Monique’s peers,” said her attorney Rachel Lang of the National Lawyers Guild. “Not necessarily by people who are in a privileged situation and who have a very different cultural background, and a very different amount of power.”

“It’s a fair opportunity,” said Occupy Homes activist Mel Reeves. “A judge is just one person; I’d like to have 12 people decide my fate rather that one. Judges are part of the system and I think they have a bias. We’re appealing to people’s conscience, and saying that the way they’re doing business is wrong. People are underwater in their mortgages right now, and they’re underwater because they were overcharged.”

White not alone in her situation

Monique White is an African-American single mother who works two jobs, including the night shift at a local liquor store. More than half of all homes in her zip code of North Minneapolis have gone through foreclosure, but she is determined to fight the foreclosure crisis and stay. The Occupy Homes movement locked arms with White in early November, defended her house through the winter, and now have joined her in court. Occupy’s other home defense, at Bobby Hull’s house in South Minneapolis, resulted in an improbable victory last month when Bank of America agreed to renegotiate the ex-Marine’s mortgage.

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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