Occupy Activists Defend Cruz Home from Sheriff’s Eviction

Approximately 100 Occupy Homes activists and community members defended Alejandra and David Cruz’s South Minneapolis home from eviction Wednesday after Hennepin County sheriffs stormed the house and slapped “no trespassing” signs onto the doors.

Occupy had boasted a presence at the home for 25 days, but only four or five activists were there guarding the front and back doors at 4044 Cedar Ave South when the sheriffs arrived at around 3:30 p.m. The activists quickly employed a rapid-response text messaging system that Occupy Homes had just put into effect, and within an hour, approximately 100 of their friends had arrived. Occupy activists cordoned off the street with signs and banners, the sheriffs deputies retreated, and Minneapolis police officials replaced them. By 5 p.m. the confrontation was diffused once it became clear that the city police would not seize the Cruz home.

Eviction a surprise

Living in the house, though not present during Wednesday’s home defense, are Alejandra and her brother David, two Minneapolis college students and activists for the Dream Act, along with their Mexican immigrant parents. Alejandra and David took the Occupy Homes pledge in late April to stay in the house which their parents purchased and are in danger of losing to foreclosure. They are among the first Latinos in the Twin Cities to take the Occupy Homes pledge and defy the banks.

PNC Bank originally owned the house (though lender Freddie Mac holds the title now) and Occupy Homes claims that the Pittsburgh-based bank has shown signs of willingness to negotiate a new mortgage with the Cruz family. That’s why Wednesday’s attempted eviction came as a surprise. Occupy believes that only PNC Bank, and not Freddie Mac, can renegotiate the mortgage terms.

“My parents had to work so hard for this house,” teary-eyed Alejandra Cruz said when she took the pledge to fight eviction. “It’s unjust for the banks to take away our dream. My parents brought us here really young, and we’ve learned how to fight against injustice ever since we came to this country. It’s been a struggle for us every single day since we got here.”

Occupy Homes has already won two improbably victories in this city. Monique White, an African-American single mother who works two jobs, is still in her house in North Minneapolis, and Bobby Hull, a Marine and former Vietnam veteran, successfully renegotiated his mortgage. Both had gone through foreclosure and faced eviction. Occupy Homes rallied to each of their sides.

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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