URGENT: this afternoon the MPD arrested Damion Willis and Teanna Buford at their reclaimed vacant home AGAIN, charging them with criminal trespass. This outrageous act of aggression represents an unprecedented city crackdown on our vacant reclamation program and escalated criminalization of homelessness--and the third blatant violation of MPD’s own foreclosure protest protocol in ten days, requiring banks to prove ownership of a foreclosed property before making any arrests.
On Monday the MPD arrested Ms. Lynnette Stewart and her son Jeremy for trespassing at their reclaimed vacant home in north Minneapolis. We held off on releasing this information until the family had time to decide how they wanted to move forward. This series of inappropriate and shocking police actions comes just a week after the MPD entered a reclaimed home in south Minneapolis, arresting Antoine Martinneau, Damion Willis, and Teanna Buford, and held the men for 30 hours on unfounded felony burglary charges, ultimately charging them with trespassing--again in direct violation of the MPD foreclosure protocol.
Over the last ten days MPD officers have come at homeless families in reclaimed homes with racial slurs, pointed guns at their heads, called their workplaces and made false accusations, placed handcuffs on them so tightly the marks took days to fade, and detained them in jail overnight without access to any lavatory facilities. None were given a chance to depart the premises, even though trespass charges are supposed to include this opportunity.
This is clear political repression against people experiencing homelessness who have the audacity to fight back and create their own solutions. The MPD’s actions the last ten days demonstrate an escalated criminalization of homelessness and crackdown on our home liberation program, even during the coldest winter in a generation while homelessness in Minnesota is at an all-time high.
What you can do now:
1. Call in to Police Chief Janee Harteau and City Attorney Susan Segal.
Call Police Chief Janee Harteau (612-673-3559) and city attorney Susan Segal (612-673-3272) to demand Damion and Teanna immediately be released and that all charges against our home liberators be dropped NOW. We also demand a public meeting with Chief Harteau to develop a better protocol that the police actually follow. Here’s a sample call-in script:
"Hi, my name is _______ calling with Occupy Homes Minnesota. We demand that you release Damion and Teanna immediately and that all charges against our home liberators be dropped NOW. <for Chief Harteau> We also demand a public meeting with Chief Harteau so that the community can raise questions and concerns about the recent actions of the MPD and the city’s protocol for dealing with disputed properties. Please respond to this request by Friday at noon. Thank you.”
2. Support Damion and Teanna with a noise demo TONIGHT, 8:00 pm, at the Hennepin County Jail, 401 S 4th Ave.
3. Join us for an emergency strategy meeting this Saturday, March 29 at noon at the Minnehaha Free Space, 3747 Minnehaha Ave (please note the change of location).
If our demand for a public meeting in the next week is not met by Friday at noon, join us for a demonstration to disrupt business as usual this Tuesday, April 1, at 11 am. If the city would rather have us living in the streets than in unused vacant homes, we’ll move into the streets.
Finally, please consider chipping in for bail. The arrests and subsequent bail of the last ten days are draining our resources, and we’ll need more resources than ever going forward as we prepare for an ongoing battle against this increased political repression.
Thanks so much for your support. We will not be intimidated, and we shall not be moved.