“The Democrats and Republicans are never gonna talk about home foreclosures,” Honkala told an Occupy Homes rally in South Minneapolis late last month. “They’ve participated in bailing out the banks across this country, and quite frankly they don’t give a damn about poor and working people. Already eight million families have lost their homes to foreclosure. How many more families have to lose their homes, and how many more have to be broken up and destroyed? There’s no words to the damage they’re doing to young people.”
Honkala is the first formerly homeless woman to run for the nation’s highest office. “My journey started on 38th Ave when my oldest son was nine years old and homeless, and on a cold winter’s night we housed ourselves in an abandoned house to keep me and my oldest son Mark from freezing to death on the streets of Minneapolis,” she said at a rally for the Cruz family, who were evicted from their home on Cedar Ave last summer. Despite a campaign by Occupy Homes, lender Freddie Mac has refused to renegotiate a loan with the Cruz family. Their house is now for sale.
“We’re anticipating that one million families will face the same situation,” said Honkala. “I’m encouraging those million families to take a page from history, from Rosa Parks. What could they do if those million families just refused to leave their homes? Put an end once and for all to homelessness in the United States of America because it’s possible. We have more abandoned houses than we have people. We stand with the struggles of the Cruz family, and all other Cruz famlies across this nation.”
Following the rally, Honkala told The UpTake that she was sharply critical of the substance and style of the three debates between President Obama and Mitt Romney.
“The word poverty made it into the debates like twice, and that came from Mitt Romney, not from the Obama administration,” Honkala pointed out. “They didn’t talk about the foreclosure crisis. Other than climate change, I don’t know what wouldn’t be at the top of any serious presidential candidate’s agenda other than taking our babies off the streets of this very wealthy nation.”
“If Jill and I had been part of the debate process, we would have talked about ending homelessness; we would have talked about the foreclosure crisis; we would have talked about mass incarceration, and the school to prison pipeline; we would have talked about legalization of marijuana and ending the drug war; we would have talked about the fact that Obama has deported more immigrants in this country than any other president in history.”
But Stein and Honkala weren’t allowed into any presidential debates — not even as spectators. Both were arrested outside the debate at Hofstra University in Long Island on Oct. 16. “Instead of being met by discussion, we were met with handcuffs,” said Honkala. “We were handcuffed to a metal chair for eight hours.”
Despite a democracy deficit at the presidential debates, Honkala said she feels heartened by the Occupy Wall Street movement and how civil disobedience has brought issues of homelessness, the foreclosure crisis and economic justice to the forefront over the past 14 months.
“We are very encouraged by the Occupy process, and in partiuclar the Occupy Homes process taking place across this country. Now there’s even conversations taking place within the Occupy movement about officially endorsing Dr. Jill Stein and myself, which I think is a very important step because we can’t just have a social movement that’s disconnected from electoral politics.”
“If we look at social transformations in different parts of the world, it’s when a social movement and a political party that’s independent of corporations link up, that’s when things really begin to change.”