Chris Gray

Community Rolls Up Sleeves and Repairs Home to Prepare for Negotiation

Last Sunday, a dozen supporters worked through 100-degree heat to complete some minor repairs on Anita Reyes’ south Minneapolis home.  About six weeks before, Woodlands National Bank had used the repairs as an excuse not to work with Reyes, claiming that it was unable to negotiate a mortgage for a condemned house.

In spite of the heat, spirits were high.  “We’re willing to do whatever it takes to work with  homeowners,” said Iain Wilson, an Occupy Homes MN organizer. “We want to do what’s right for communities.”

For Occupy Homes MN, the event was a change of pace from some of its recent actions against foreclosure.  Shovels and paintbrushes replaced concrete barrels and barricades.  Among the supporters were children and retired neighbors.

Chris Gray, a veteran of the intense confrontations with Minneapolis Police Department at the Cruz house, said, “We’re showing the banks that communities have the resources, in terms of people, knowledge, and materials, to find solutions. People want their neighbors to succeed–it’s what’s right for the community.  I wish Woodlands National Bank shared the same perspective.”  

Anita Reyes Travels 90 Miles to Confront Bank; Bank Executive Hides in Office, Calls Police

American Indian Movement founder Mary Wilson Medrano and supporters flood the Onamia headquarters of Woodlands National Bank.
When homeowner Anita Reyes traveled 90 miles to native-owned Woodlands National Bank’s Headquarters in Onamia, MN on Thursday, she hoped to meet with someone to discuss her foreclosure. Instead, bank representatives called the police. 
Anita was joined by supporters from the American Indian Movement and Occupy Homes MN.  The caravan spanned four generations of activists, including Mary Jane Wilson-Medrano, one of the founding members of AIM. The group peacefully entered the bank and asked to speak with Vice President Cindy Koonce, who has been Anita’s main point of contact. Although Koonce was in the building, she relayed via cashier that she would not meet with Reyes nor members of the American Indian Movement.  When they asked if there was a better time or day, supporters were told to leave the property.

Anita Reyes has been battling Woodlands National Bank for over a year, and over the last few weeks has received support from her neighbors in the Longfellow Neighborhood, members of the American Indian Movement and Occupy Homes MN.  The bank foreclosed on Anita when she fell three months behind on her mortgage because of illness.

Anita received an eviction notice in mid-June.  In response, Occupy Homes MN organized a national call-in drive to the bank, and within hours, Anita got a call from the bank offering a deal to keep her in her home. The next day, the bank backed out, claiming that she had called four minutes after the deadline.  Since then, she has been living in constant distress, waiting for sheriffs to appear and kick in her door.