“Eviction is the crime!” (evictions in Minnesota, USA)

13 09 2009

Source: Indymedia Twin Cities

Thirty-five days into the popular occupation of 3138 Clinton, Rosemary Williams (one of five Minnesota women publicly resisting eviction – TCIMC/PPEHRC video) was inside her home when it was raided by the Minneapolis Police Department around 2:45pm Friday afternoon.  Three supporters were inside.  Police claimed they would give ample time to move out remaining belongings, and those inside did so, aided by several dozen who rallied to the scene.

But later in the afternoon, the MPD’s plan for a quiet, obedient eviction was foiled.  After rallying the crowd, a handful of activists crossed the yellow tape roping off Clinton Avenue on either side of the house and were promptly assaulted by the police with kicks and pepper spray.  Other supporters crossed the now-removed yellow tape from the opposite direction to ensure the activists’ safety.  Officers responded aggressively; one shoved someone to the ground with a two-handed shove to the chest. A TC Indymedia volunteer was sprayed directly in the face while on the “public” side of the police tape.

Four or five people sat down in front of the house in an act of civil disobedience.  An officer pointed to another man standing motionless with the crowd outside the police cordon, grabbed him and arrested him.  Eventually, seven were taken waiting vans in the alley and arrested.  An MPD spokesman said they were charged with obstruction of legal process, though they have not actually been formally charged as of tonight.  As of midnight, all have been released from jail.  This video (1:50) shows the police conduct during the civil disobedience.

Download video (MP4) 8.4MB | YouTube | Related: Video: Before the arrests | Article from Fight Back News | Foreclosure Solutions Forum Sat. 9/19 | TC Daily Planet article w/ video Williams interview | Upcoming: Saturday 10am Leaflet at 7th/Hennepin outside Obama event | Sunday 2pm Press conference outside Rosemary’s house

Have videos, photos, or updates?  Post them as a comment or publish to the newswire.

At the time of the raid, occupants of the house were preparing for a two-year-old’s birthday party.  The party was moved to a nearby home.  MPD spokesman Jesse Garcia later lied in front of reporters by denying that the child’s party had been disrupted.

Garcia was later heard saying into his cell phone what sounded like, “we look like the bad guy.”  Certainly, any prospect of the MPD appearing benevolent disappeared as afternoon turned into evening.  Although one or two officers were reportedly helpful – as helpful as one can be while evicting a 55-year block resident – during the process, most were unsurprisingly rude with neighbors and supporters as well as disrespectful to Rosemary’s belongings.

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A man and woman from the MPD crime lab were inside the police lines, taking video and photo of activists.  For a significant time they refused to identify themselves, but eventually gave their badge numbers after extended jeers from the crowd.

Police insultingly brought along Dominic Bouza, former police chief and now Salvation Army official complicit in illegal harassment of poor residents at downtown shelters, to “help Williams find housing,” reported the Star Tribune.  They should have noticed the crowd that has flocked to events since March to see that Williams has plenty of help in the form of neighbors, not official  institutions.

As police milled about, outraged activists and many immediate neighbors joined in chanting, “Who’s house? Rosemary’s house,” “Housing is a human right! Eviction is a crime” and “Let Rosemary stay!”

The building was boarded – or, more accurately, the windows were sealed shut by unfamiliar sheets of durable metal – by workers from Vacant Property Security of Chicago, Illinois (where the Cook County Sheriff has boldly declared a moratorium on foreclosure evictions).  The special materials are supposedly designed to make breaking in more difficult.  They were also used on the second story windows; the city of Minneapolis typically only boards the first-floor windows of vacant buildings.

According to City Council member Elizabeth Glidden, who has offered tepid support for Rosemary throughout her struggle, private security has been hired by mortgage company GMAC to patrol the property, and the MPD will not pay it special attention.  A man wearing a private security uniform arrived on the scene as police and protestors prepared to leave, and spoke with an officer.  He refused to identify himself or his company, or say whether his company was the one hired to patrol.

Glidden said the police action “makes no sense,” and was saddened by the scene Friday.  She says she “scoured what she could do” and “tried to be a personal advocate for Rosemary,” though some supporters have questioned her commitment to seeing Rosemary keep her home no matter the method.  She refused to condemn the MPD, saying they were “caught in the middle.”  Notably absent from the scene of the raid, however, were any other seated politicians, including mayor RT Rybak.

A FOX 9 TV cameraman arrived, though other TV stations were notably absent. The day’s corporate news was instead dominated by the 9/11 anniversary, a pending Barack Obama visit to Minneapolis, and the funeral of a North St. Paul police officer killed on Monday while responding to a domestic violence incident (the suspect was himself shot and killed by a fellow officer).  Print, radio and independent media flocked to the scene, however, including a German reporter on assignment from the Washington Post who had been in Minneapolis to cover the occupation

Just before 5pm, Rosemary emerged for the first time from inside her house, holding a bouquet of flowers in the air to applause from the crowd, which began to chant, “It’s not over yet!”

Soon thereafter the civil disobedience and arrests began.  As the arrested activists – some going limp – were dragged to the alley away from the crowd and most media, many began call-and-response chants with the gathered suporters.  Those who had been pepper sprayed directly had their eyes washed out with water.  People berated the police for their rough treatment of the arrestees.

Ironically, the MPD dragged at least one arrestee through Rosemary’s house, out of view, to the backyard to be loaded into the booking van.

Shortly after the action subsided, one officer’s arm was being bandaged with what looked like a small blood stain soaking through.

Rosemary Williams was not one of those arrested.

Later, others were allowed to continue moving out some belongings.  After a long wait, around 8pm, the workers finished boarding and drove away, followed by most police officers.  When it was all done, a crowd of about three dozen still remained.

A Small Sampling of Overheard Professional Remarks from the Minneapolis Police Department:

Officer I. Raichert, pointing to a legal observers’ cap (NLG legal observers have traditionally worn the green caps for years): “So, is that leftover from the RNC?”

Unknown officer leaning from second story window, to a supporter in a neighbor’s yard: “If you don’t get out of the yard, we’ll put a 45mm [?] in your face.”

Unknown officer when asked about his badge while leaving: “I’ll take it off and we can figure this out aruond back, if you want.”  He refused to give his badge number.

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3 responses

3 12 2009
loopzer

This was a great read though! Thanks..

10 02 2010
4854derrida

Hello

I’ve recently uploaded two rare interviews with the Wobblie, anarchist, and activist Dorothy Day.

Day had begun her service to the poor in New York City during the Depression with Peter Maurin, and it continued until her death in 1980. Their dedication to administering to the homeless, elderly, and disenfranchised continues in many parts of the world.

Please post or announce the availability of these videos for those who may be interested in hearing this remarkable humanist.

They may be located here:

http://www.youtube.com/user/4854derrida

Thank you

Dean Taylor

10 11 2010
Mouth Sores

By visiting many places we will come across so many historical monuments.




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