Confronting one of the greatest civil rights issues of our time, Rose McGee and her supporters took a bus tour of the Twin Cities to demand justice for the housing crisis--and her own foreclosure. We were delighted to co-organize the event with Jewish Community Action and Northside Community Reinvestment Coalition.
Our "Housing is a Human Right" bus tour began at Rose's house.
The tour was patterned after the efforts of the Freedom Riders during the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s who used buses to bring attention to the injustice of Jim Crow segregation. The Bus Tour, the first of its kind in the Twin Cities, was designed to bring attention to the foreclosure crisis and proclaim that housing is a right. The housing crisis has forced hundreds of thousands of families out of their homes, and, as the result of predatory loans, decimated the wealth of African-American and Hispanic communities, causing some to call it one of the greatest civil rights issues of our time.
Our first stop was at Shir Tikvah Congregation, where we broke bread and were welcomed by the rabbis. We gathered together for a reading of the Torah, and Rep. Keith Ellison spoke.
From there, we headed to Gayle's house. Gayle is a homeowner in the Foreclosure and Eviction Free Zone, fighting foreclosure with M&T Bank. She told her story and we pledged to fight with her. You can sign Gayle's petition here: http://start2.occupyourhomes.org/petitions/m-t-bank-negotiate-with-gayle-lindsey
Next, we went to our recently reclaimed home in St. Paul. This home belonged to Mysnikol Miller, who has turned her home over to the community. Just before Christmas, Carrie Martinez, Xavier Buford, and their 12-year-old son Caleb moved into the home. They had been living out of their car since October 23 when Hennepin County sent 12 sheriffs to evict the Vinjes' home. Mysnikol and Carrie both spoke movingly about what this house means to them. You can sign the petition to turn the home over to the community here: http://start2.occupyourhomes.org/petitions/turn-over-405-hatch-ave-to-the-community
We headed next to the Capitol. Whose house? OUR HOUSE! We were joined by several supportive state legislators who plan to introduce a Homeowner Bill of Rights, similar to what was recently passed in California--only stronger. Reps. Karen Clark, Mike Freiberg, and Ray Dehn all pledged to fight for Rose. One component of this bill would outlaw dual tracking, the process of foreclosing on and negotiating with a homeowner at the same time. This happened to Rose and many, many others who have been unfairly foreclosed on.
We headed back to Monique White's house, where Anthony told us the story of how the whole Occupy Homes journey began. Monique went to court four times before US Bank and Freddie Mac agreed to renegotiate her loan. This gave heart to all of us fighting for Rose, whose second court date is coming up on Thursday.
We concluded our journey at Shiloh Temple in north Minneapolis, where Rose began fighting for her home. Many new volunteers stepped forward, pledging to help us move forward. Keith Ellison joined us again.
"What could be more heartbreaking to a parent than to tell your child you don't know where you're going to sleep tonight? To say that place on the wall where we marked off how tall you are, those posters in your room--that's not gonna be here anymore because Daddy and Mom got sick and we can't pay the mortgage. This should not be happening in the richest country in the world. There's enough housing for us all to live in," said Rep. Ellison. "I'm committed to Rose staying in her home because Rose has inspired us all to fight."
We gathered back at Rose's house for a concert where local music legends Toki Wright and Brother Ali performed for us.
It was a beautiful, powerful day filled with inspiration and community-building. We will win this fight because we are fighting together.
You can join us on the next step of Rose's journey Thursday at 8:30 am for court support. We are making history. We shall not be moved.