I-Pies, Brother Ali Rally Students in Macalester Divestment Action

Macalester College students occupying President Brian Rosenberg’s office were jamming to Jimmy Cliff’s reggae anthem, “Sitting in Limbo,” Wednesday, Day 2 of a continuing sit-in called to protest the liberal arts college’s refusal to divest its funds from Wells Fargo.

But it didn’t feel like limbo: The mood was upbeat for 30 student members of KWOC (Kick Wells Fargo Off Campus) who staged an impromptu slumber party in Weyerhaeuser Hall Tuesday night and were buoyed Wednesday afternoon by the simultaneous arrivals of hip-hop artist and Occupy Homes activist Brother Ali and delicious pizzas delivered from Grand Avenue favorite The Italian Pie Shoppe.

The award-winning pies came as a show of national support for the St. Paul sit-in, courtesy of fellow activists from Berkeley, New York and Madison who called in orders to the Pie Shoppe and had them delivered to the hungry protesters to express their solidarity with the divestment effort. Brother Ali came out of his own dedication to the cause, expressing support for the student protest and urging the Mac students to stay focused on getting the college to take a stand against the foreclosure crisis which has seen thousands of families thrown out while the big banks have been bailed out.

Brother Ali, speaking to students outside Weyerhaeuser Hall, quoted the late Howard Zinn, author of A People’s History of the United States, and joined the activists inside, chanting a popular refrain from the Occupy movement:

“Banks got bailed out, we got sold out!”

“Every single good thing that’s ever happened in this country,” Brother Ali said, “was because a group of people — and not a big group of people or necessarily a powerful group of people, but a group of sincere, genuine people who were willing to sacrifice — stood together and forced those things to happen.

“People all over the country and the world know what you are doing right now.”

The Macalester protest was sparked by the St. Paul college’s announcement Monday that it won’t divest its finances from the mega bank, which activists across the nation accuse of putting thousands of homeowners on the street during the foreclosure crisis.

“We’re here to make a huge corporation fix what is broken and rebuild our Minnesota communities,” said Leewana Thomas, a junior from Fargo, N.D. “That’s why students are sitting in this building. We want to meet with (president Rosenberg) and hear why he thinks that Macalester can’t cut the (Wells Fargo) contract.”

Rosenberg was out of town yesterday, prompting students to hang a sign on the side of Weyerhaeuser asking, rather archly, “Where in the World is PBR?”

PBR stands for President Brian Rosenberg. One thing for sure: He’s not in his office this week.

But with hot pizza from around the corner, revolutionary tunes blasting and support growing, the KWOC students say they won’t abandon their sit-in until Rosenberg meets their demands.

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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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