14 Arrested at Cruz Home, Vowing Needless Foreclosure “Stops Here”

BREAKING: We will reoccupy the Cruz home AGAIN tomorrow at 2pm on the one month anniversary of our 24/7 eviction blockade at the Cruz family home. Freddie Mac, PNC Bank, and Mayor Rybak have a choice to make: waste more city resources arresting peaceful protesters, or work to keep the Cruz family in their home. WE SHALL NOT BE MOVED.


Update:Community members held 12 pm press conference at City Hall to condemn Rybak’s use of public resources to defend the banks, joined by other homeowners facing foreclosure who have taken a pledge not to leave their homes.


Raw video: http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/22970891 and http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/22971483

UPDATE: All 14 arrestees have been released from jail. The final one was released after being held on probable cause for over 20 hours.

UPDATE: (Photos below by Peter Leeman–Even MORE can be found here: http://peterleeman.tumblr.com/)

In the latest incident in an ongoing showdown, officers violently arrested occupiers peacefully defending the Cruz family home from foreclosure Wednesday night. Fourteen were arrested defending 4044 Cedar Avenue Wednesday night, only 24 hours after Mayor Rybak’s office, facing mounting public pressure, issued a news release declaring “the City is not in the foreclosure business.” In the statement, City Attorney Susan Segal is quoted saying “The City plays a limited role to protect public safety. The property is the responsibility of its owner… In this case, the City has fulfilled its legal obligation to secure the property.”

“We hoped Mayor Rybak would stick to his word, but today’s police violence shows Rybak and his police protect and serve the banks, not our communities,” said Martha Ockenfels-Martinez, an organizer with Occupy Homes MN and representative of the Cruz family.

The 14 arrests Wednesday at the Cruz home bring this week’s total to 23 during 5 eviction attempts.

At 8:45PM, over 100 people gathered to link arms around the Cruz family home, sitting peaceably singing “We Shall Not Be Moved.”  By approximately 9:30PM, occupiers had reclaimed the Cruz home.


Around 10:30PM, dozens of police returned in full force, many wielding four-foot batons, and closed off the entire block around Cedar Avenue. Several officers, including Police Chief Tim Dolan, trampled over the eight protesters sitting down and linking arms on the front steps of the home.  During this time dozens of protesters gathered in the front and back yard linking arms around the Cruz family home. A police line shoved the protesters linking arms in the front yard down the hill to the sidewalk. The protesters linking arms sang and chanted “It stops here” before the 8 protesters sitting on the front steps of the house were violently arrested. One police officer head-locked Occupy Homes organizer Nick Espinosa, who was sitting on the top of the steps, throwing him down on his back and dragging him inside the front door of the house in the arrest.

“The banks are stealing our homes through illegal and fraudulent practices while refusing to work with families, and they are aided and abetted by the mayor and police,” said Espinosa, who was released on bail early this morning. “If anyone should be arrested it’s the bankers that crashed our economy while paying themselves record bonuses with our tax dollars.”


Around 11:30PM, after further threats of arrests from the MPD, protesters decided to relocate outside of the Hennepin County Jail in solidarity with the protesters arrested. As they were attempting to leave the home, four more were arrested from the public sidewalk and street, including one who was arrested as he was unlocking his bike.

Freddie Mac, the current holder of the Cruz family’s mortgage, hired 24/7 private security who called the police to enforce the raid Wednesday night, though PNC Bank, which originally held the Cruz loan, has repeatedly assured the family that they are working to resolve the issue.

At a press conference following the Sheriff Department’s second raid last Friday, City Council Members Gary Schiff, Elizabeth Glidden, and Cam Gordon came to show their support and speak out about the violent, unjust eviction of the Cruz family home. “I stand with you in calling on Hennepin County to suspend the breaking down of more doors and the breaking in of more homes of families in this community,” said City Council Member Gary Schiff. “There is no excuse to resort to this kind of violence to put the wealth back in the hands of banks.”






Police Chief Tim Dolan steps directly on top of peaceful protesters defending the Cruz Home








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Five Arrested As Occupiers Successfully Defend Home from Second Eviction Attempt

High Quality Photos: http://peterleeman.tumblr.com/

UPDATE: Thanks to massive public pressure, our courageous friends who put their bodies on the line to defend the Cruz home will be released tonight on $100 bail! We will celebrate in a safe space with the Cruz family and the arrestees at the home of Gerardo Cajamarca, who is also fighting an upcoming eviction, starting at 6:00pm 5613 Standish Ave.

We are still here and are currently negotiating with PNC bank!

Occupy Homes MN Supporters bring the Cruz family’s destroyed door to city hall

UPDATE: Alejandra and David brought their door that the sherrifs smashed in at 4am this morning and 75 supporters chanted and redecorated Sheriff Stanek’s office for over an hour until they finally agreed to meet with the family to explain why they attempted to evict the family for the second time in 48 hours in full knowledge that PNC Bank was actively negotiating with the family to find a peaceful solution.

Cruz family’s smashed front door at Sherrif Stanek’s office

UPDATE: Community members will hold an emergency 12:00pm press conference and march on Sheriff Stanek’s office from the steps of City Hall to denounce him for authorizing the violent eviction of the home while the family is in active negotiations with the bank to peacefully resolve the situation. They will demand he stop trying to evict the home while the bank is working to resolve the issue.
UPDATE: Sheriffs have said they will hold the arrestees until TUESDAY. Call sheriff Stanek to demand they release them IMMEDIATELY. Ask him why his deputies are evicting a family negotiating with the bank and to demand he stop these senseless attacks on our community. (612)348-3744

Eviction Defense. Photo: Peter Leeman

Platoons of sheriffs descended on the Cruz family home in a 4 am raid today, arresting five nonviolent supporters in the second failed eviction attempt in 48 hours. Fifty protesters mobilized to defend the home and outflanked the sheriffs by marching through the alley into backyard, causing the sheriffs to retreat without fully securing the home. Members of Occupy Homes MN remain inside the home as of 7 am this morning.

“An army of sheriffs marched in military-style and busted down the door in the dead of night,” said Ben Egerman, an organizer with Occupy Homes MN. “It’s unconscionable that Sheriff Stanek ordered the violent eviction of this home a second time, especially when he is fully aware of active negotiations between the family and the bank to resolve the situation peacefully.”

Several protesters, who had locked themselves to structures in and around the home, sustained minor injuries as sheriffs forcibly removed them from the balcony and roof with jackhammers and electric saws. The condition of arrested persons remains unknown.

Occupy Homes MN has been defending the home in a round-the-clock eviction blockade since April 30 to demand PNC Bank negotiate with the Cruz family, who fell into foreclosure when the bank failed to withdraw their online payment.

The second eviction attempt came hours after Occupy Pittsburgh delivered a giant letter to PNC Bank Executive Vice President Dan Taylor, who committed to working with the family to modify their loan.

“It’s clear that Sheriff Stanek would rather kick families out of their homes than work with our communities,” said Martha Ockenfels-Martinez of Occupy Homes. “We’re still here and we will not be moved from this home until we see a good faith negotiation.”

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Occupy Homes MN Successfully Defends Foreclosed Home From Sheriffs, Police

High Quality photos here: http://peterleeman.tumblr.com/

Sheriffs and police retreated today after over 100 community members surrounded a foreclosed home while others locked themselves to half-ton concrete barrels to prevent the eviction. Six sheriffs attempted to evict the Cruz family home around 3:30 this afternoon, which members of Occupy Homes MN have been defending in a round-the-clock eviction blockade for over three weeks.


Protesters surround and defend the Cruz home after sheriffs retreat. Photo: Peter Leeman

“Sheriff Richard Stanek should be ashamed of himself for authorizing the eviction of the Cruz family’s home just days after we sent a delegation to his office to inform him that PNC was negotiating with the family. It appears he would rather throw families on the street at the banks’ request than work with our communities,” said Martha Ockenfels-Martinez, an organizer with Occupy Homes MN.

When sheriffs arrived to evict the home, protesters locked themselves to structures inside the home with bike locks. Sheriffs attempted to cut them out, but within 30 minutes over 100 supporters had arrived, and sheriffs retreated from the home. Police blocked traffic at either end of the street for over an hour, then also left the home to the activists who had gathered to defend it.

Shortly afterward PNC Bank contacted Occupy Homes MN to request the necessary documents for a loan modification for the Cruz family. However, the home remains under threat of imminent eviction.

The Cruz home went into foreclosure in 2011 when PNC failed to withdraw an online mortgage payment and then demanded two months’ payment as punishment. Unable to pay more than the current month’s payment, the family home fell into foreclosure.

“We’re asking PNC Bank to correct their error and negotiate a mortgage that allows the Cruz family to stay in their home,” explained Ockenfels-Martinez. “We’ll do whatever it takes for them to come to the table.”

Today’s attempted eviction took place despite the fact that a representative from PNC Bank reached out to Occupy Homes last week and committed to ask Freddie Mac to hold off on the eviction.

Alejandra and David Cruz have been active community members in the Twin Cities who have tirelessly advocated for the DREAM Act and educational equity for immigrant students.

“My family and I have been fighting for justice all our lives,” said Alejandra Cruz. “Now we stand together with other homeowners across Minnesota fighting unjust banking practices. Change is coming, and we’re going to make that change happen.”

Tomorrow morning a delegation from Minnesota will deliver a giant letter to PNC Bank’s national headquarters in Pittsburgh from supporters asking them to negotiate with the family.

This action comes fresh off Occupy Homes MN’s precedent-setting victory of Monique White’s mortgage renegotiation after a public seven-month struggle that garnered national and international media attention.


Double lockdown in back of Cruz home. Photo: Peter Leeman


Half-ton barrel replaced. Photo: Peter Leeman

More High Quality photos here: http://peterleeman.tumblr.com/

Video streaming by Ustream

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