Story and video for The UpTake by Bill Sorem
Just as Minneapolis voters were preparing to go to the polls and select a new mayor last Tuesday, 40 Hennepin County Sheriff’s Deputies arrived at the south Minneapolis home of one of the candidates to evict her, smashed through the front and back doors and breaking her windows.
Jaymie Kelly, who ran for mayor on an anti-eviction platform, lost the election. But she was the resounding winner in the Battle of Jaymie Kelly’s Home: After news of the violent raid circulated, dozens of Occupy Homes activists came to Kelly’s rescue, quickly gathering inside her home and raising the temperature to the point that private security guards who had taken possession of the home after the sheriffs’ raid decided to evict themselves and departed from the scene. Kelly also got a boost from another mayoral candidate, Betsy Hodges, who would win the day’s election to become mayor-elect of Minneapolis. Hodges showed up at Kelly’s home to bring coffee to the activists and to promise that under her administration, police powers won’t be used to evict Kelly.
The pre-dawn Election Day raid on Kelly’s home was a follow up to a court order that had been taped to Kelly’s door the previous day, telling her she had 24 hours to leave. Kelly, who has been fighting eviction for years, did not think the deputies would come back on Election Day. But they did, at 5.m., with a vengeance.
The deputies “came stomping up the stairs,” according to Kelly, who said the gendarmes dragged her 23-year-old daughter, Sinead, out of bed, handcuffed her, walked her across broken glass from the windows and put her on the couch. She had bloody feet as a result of being forced to walk across the broken glass. Kelly, too, was rousted from her bed, but negotiated time to put on clothes and use the bathroom. Her daughter was hysterical when Kelly came down the stairs, hyperventilating until the deputies finally removed the cuffs.
After the initial shock Kelly was releaseed and allowed to drive her daughter to college in Apple Valley. By the time Kelly returned to her home, about 50 Occupy volunteers had gathered at her home, forcing a handful of security guards that had taken over from the deputies to change their plans and decamp.
Kelly says one of the sheriff’s deputies told a relative of hers that they had been told there were “terrorists” in her house, which was why they approached in force and knocked down the doors.
Kelly has owned the home for 30 years. Her troubles began when her husband, a retired postal worker, died of lung cancer in 1998. A “financial adviser” got persuaded her to take a predatory loan with a 19-percent interest rate. Kelly thought she was paying off her loan, but instead she was paying off questionable mortgage lenders.
“I was still in shock as the result of my husband’s death,” said Kelly.
The blue and white cows in her yard on the corner of 38th Street and 11th avenue have attracted attention for years. They were purchased when Kelly and her husband worked for the Minneapolis Post office, the first a mother’s day present. The cows have been on the Mary Tyler Moore bus tour.
The sheriff’s sale as a result of the foreclosure was conducted October 24, 2012. By then the mortgage had been transferred to Freddie Mac, which engaged JPMorgan Chase & Company to service the account. The foreclosure redemption period ended last April 24.
Occupy Homes Minnesota got involved in January, 2013, and the process of support and resistance began. Mayor-elect Hodges has been a supporter sincere early 2013. She attended a number of events along the way. On election morning Hodges took time out from get-out-the-vote efforts to deliver coffee to the volunteers at Kelly’s home. She told Kelly that if she was elected, city police would not be used to evict her.
Since the security guards left, Kelly has lived with the damage to her home and awaits the bank’s next move. She has pleaded for a new loan based on realistic market value. Freddie Mac has strongly opposed any reduction of homeowner loans, preferring to foreclose and evict. Ironically, Freddie Mac was founded in 1970 to benefit mortgagees. Instead, the agency has become an enforcement arm of the banks.