Over 100 community members rallied in south Minneapolis last night in support of the wrongfully foreclosed Ceballos family, who face imminent eviction. Occupy Homes MN has pledged a full-scale eviction defense, a tactic that drew widespread attention and 39 arrests during the Cruz house evictions last year, if JPMorgan Chase fails to negotiate.
"For me it's important to stay in my home because my kids grew up here," said Sergio Ceballos, the homeowner. "I'm just asking for a modification, not to stay in my house for free."
After the Ceballos family launched a public Occupy Homes MN campaign in April with two neighboring families fighting their foreclosures with Chase Bank, Chase agreed to review their case for a loan modification. But even as Chase was reviewing their case, they moved forward with eviction--dual tracking illegal under the national mortgage settlement. A judge refused to allow a Spanish-speaking advocate to assist the Ceballos family in court, and ordered a writ of recovery for June 30--meaning they could now be evicted any day.
"When Sergio got his eviction papers, I told him not to worry because I had been to court three weeks ago--and Sergio was even working with the bank," said Jaymie Kelly, Sergio's friend and neighbor also fighting her foreclosure with Chase Bank. "What happened to Sergio seemed to me like racial profiling."
Jaymie and Sergio are both fighting their foreclosures in south Minneapolis' Eviction Free Zone, a neighborhood demanding a moratorium to all foreclosures and an end to public resources for evictions. Last year the city of Minneapolis spent over $42,000 protecting the Cruz home for Freddie Mac and PNC Bank.
"We've seen what extent the city and sheriffs will go to protect the banks instead of the people," said David Cruz. "We've seen to what extent the banks will go to not negotiate with people who just want to stay in their homes. It takes community to take back all the dreams they've taken away. I'm thankful everyone is here to face the police, face the sheriff, and face the bank again. We are here. The community is here."
As the crowd cheered "WHOSE HOUSE? SERGIO'S HOUSE!" Chase Bank representatives were on the phone with advocates of the family, saying they would consider halting the eviction to consider the loan modification and would make a decision by Friday. The community received the news with cautious optimism, but pledged to keep up the pressure.
"This is my house where I learned to ride my bike, fell off, have a couple of scars--you miss a few payments and everything goes down the drain. But we're here, like the Cruz family, who have motivated a lot of us," said Jonathan Ceballos, Sergio's son. "We wouldn't be here if it wasn't for the community and for our people, because together we are one."
Photos by Mark R. Brown.
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