Fifty community members protested at City Hall Thursday afternoon demanding an end to police resources for evictions after 25 police officers helped a bank's management company board up a foreclosed home and arrested a resident this morning.
This massive police mobilization marks the fifth time they have assisted the bank in boarding up the home. Supporters have removed boards time and time again to demand the bank work with the family to get it donated to a nonprofit to be used for affordable housing, as homelessness in Hennepin County sits at a six-year high.
Members of Occupy Homes MN and NOC (Neighborhood Organizing for Change) marched to the Hennepin County Sheriff's Jail demanding the release of Antoine Martinneau, NOC's canvassing director, who was yanked out of bed and arrested without being given an opportunity to leave yesterday morning for sleeping in a foreclosed home.
A representative from Morningstar Mortgage used citizen’s arrest to detain Antoine, and 25 Minneapolis police helped Morningstar Mortgage’s management company secure the home with steel plates. Forty community members arrived on the scene in protest as police and management proceeded to turn this previously occupied and cared-for home into the fourth vacant home on the block.
“Mayor Rybak and the Minneapolis Police Department should be ashamed. This is a horrible waste of our tax dollars,” said a neighbor, who preferred not to be named because she works for a bank. “As 800,000 workers are forced to stay home during the government shutdown, sending 25 police officers to board up a home is still considered an essential service. I’m sickened that our tax dollars are paying for all these cops to be here to protect a bank that’s making record profits.”
The protesting continued throughout the day, as the group marched from the County Jail to Sheriff Stanek's office and then sat in at Mayor Rybak's office to put pressure on the City of Minneapolis to stop using public resources to evict community members like Antoine and Jaymie Kelly.
The mayor's staff grew increasingly frustrated with the sit-in. "We don't come to your house banging on the door and hollering," said an aide to the mayor, a line that was met by jeers from the crowd, remembering what had happened to Antoine that morning. The mayor refused to meet with or to schedule a meeting with Jaymie Kelly or other residents facing the threat of eviction by Rybak's police force.
Jaymie, who has lived in her house for 30 years and paid for it five times over, faces eviction from Chase Bank and Freddie Mac. Friday is the last day of her eviction order. One hundred and fifty community members showed up to prevent an eviction on Tuesday, and Occupy Homes is demanding the sheriff stay away. The community plans to celebrate her final countdown with a rally at 3:30 pm Friday, culminating with a disco ball drop at 5pm.
Jaymie lives at 3753 11th Ave S, Minneapolis, just blocks from the house that was boarded up yesterday on 14th Avenue.
"What happened today was really hard to watch. The banks put so much effort into putting people out of their homes, but when it comes to keeping a person in their home they do next to nothing to help," said Mike McDowell, whose family owned the home the police boarded up today. "The police are supposed to work for us, not the banks--but what happened today shows where their true priorities are."
“Wall Street is using our tax dollars to evict families and let homes in my neighborhood sit empty for the banks’ profit,” said Cat Salonek, a neighbor and organizer with Occupy Homes MN. “The bank’s use of citizen’s arrest only further proves that Wall Street controls our neighborhoods. It's time for the banks to start donating these homes to nonprofits for use as affordable housing.”
Jaymie and Antoine live in south Minneapolis’ Eviction Free Zone, along with neighbor Sergio Ceballos, who remains in his home and is in negotiations which Chase Bank after a successful eviction defense on July 24.