250 community members gathered in the front yard of the Ceballos home on Monday night for a concert and rally to show support for the Ceballos family, who, with the help of community supporters, fended off an eviction attempt by 30 sheriffs’ deputies sent by JPMorgan Chase last Wednesday. They expect another eviction attempt at any time.
The concert marked the three-week anniversary of a round-the-clock occupation of the house mounted by housing justice group Occupy Homes Minnesota. When sheriffs came to evict last Wednesday, more than 75 home defenders gathered in half an hour and easily moved back into the house. Occupy Homes MN has pledged to defend the home until Chase Bank negotiates with the Ceballos family.
The crowd, one of the largest in Occupy Homes MN history, gathered under a ten-foot banner suspended from trees reading “SERGIO’S HOUSE. EVICTIONS STOP HERE.”
The concert included performances by internationally known hip hop artist Brother Ali, as well as local rapper Haphduzn. City Councilmember Elizabeth Glidden and State Rep. Ray Dehn also spoke in support of the eviction defense.
Sergio Ceballos, who has lived in his house for 13 years with his family, asked JPMorgan Chase Bank for a loan modification in 2010 after a divorce halved the family’s income. Chase told the Ceballos family they were considering them for a loan modification--but then filed for eviction at the same time. This process is known as dual tracking and is illegal under the national mortgage settlement.
"Without people in houses, we don't have a neighborhood, we don't have community,” said State Rep. Ray Dehn. "This is not where police resources should be used. This is not a public safety issue. Does anyone feel unsafe here? The banks have gotten away with this for far, far too long."
“We spoke to Chase Bank again today,” said Sergio Ceballos. “They still say they are working with us and asked for more paperwork. We’ve already sent everything many times, but we’ll get it to them right away. Our negotiations continue, and we will stay here until they commit to a solution that keeps us in our home.”
The Ceballos family lives in south Minneapolis' Eviction Free Zone, a community where neighbors have pledged to stand up against unjust evictions. Nine other residents in this neighborhood have vowed to fight their foreclosures--and two of them, Jaymie Kelly and Nafeesah Abdullah McReynolds-El, could be facing eviction as soon as August.
"The power is in the people. It takes us being here,” said Fred Anthony, Sergio’s union representative at SEIU Healthcare, which has pledged full support to the campaign for the Ceballos home. Jaymie Kelly, whose house was also foreclosed by Chase Bank--even though she had paid for it five times over--agreed. "We support each other, and this is creating a different dialogue."
The community is bracing for another eviction attempt in the coming days, this time by the Minneapolis police who last year arrested 39 people and spent over $40,000 attempting to force supporters out of the Cruz home after the initial eviction attempt by Richard Stanek's deputies.
Brother Ali voiced his full support for the occupation. "This really does make a difference,” he said to the crowd. “The narrative they’ve built around working class people is that they’re irresponsible, that they’re lazy--that they don’t fight back. This is us taking control of the narrative."