Alejandra and David Cruz #occupy their own home / "Grateful, already..."

(Minneapolis, MN) The most recent confrontation between Occupy Homes activists and the Minneapolis Police Department took place Thursday, June 21 at the home of Alejandra and David Cruz. The rally was one of several planned across the country, part of a national "day of action" intended to support the Cruz family as they traveled across the country to hand deliver a petition boasting over 40,000 signatures, and loan modification documents that would allow them to remain in their home, to PNC Bank in Pittsburgh.


Alejandra and David Cruz #occupy their own home / "Grateful, already..."
by Angus McLinn

When the Cruzes arrived in Pittsburgh, they were directed to two public relations representatives who didn't know what the terms of the mortgage were or the specifics of the situation. "[PNC representatives] were there to say that there was nothing that PNC could do for them," said Occupy Homes organizer Ben Egerman.

The rally in Minneapolis came to a head when 13 activists, including local hip-hop artist Brother Ali, marched across the police line surrounding the Cruz home in response to PNC's unwillingness to negotiate. Activists marched one by one up to the police line, often making statements as to why they were willing to face arrest, and then peacefully surrendered before being whisked away bound with zip ties to a paddy wagon behind the house as supporters cheered from the boulevard.

Hours later, Occupy Homes activists launched a noisy demonstration outside of the county jail where those arrested at the rally were being held.

After two hours of banging pots and pans and generally making a nuisance of themselves, only 2 of the 13 detained activists were released.

The City Attorney has also escalated charges against 3 activists who were arrested at a May 30 demonstration at the Cruz home from trespassing to include, among other things, third degree riot; a gross misdemeanor carrying a sentence of up to one year in prison and a $3,000 fine.

Despite PNC Bank's continuing unwillingness to renegotiate and the ever-increasing pressure from authorities, activists say they remain committed to their struggle regardless of the consequences. In an impromptu speech during the afternoon's rally at the Cruz home, James Noble, an Occupy Homes activist, explained, "I've been here since the second day of the occupation and I keep coming back. I've seen my friends get arrested, I've seen my friends get out of jail, and we're going to keep doing this because this is where the battle is ... I just really admire the Cruz family for the fight they've been putting up and I'm really proud to be a part of the community that's helping them do this."

The Cruz family's home was foreclosed upon in 2011. They have since been engaged in a lengthy battle, with assistance from the Occupy Homes movement, against PNC Bank over the property.

That battle has resulted in over 30 arrests and cost taxpayers over $42,000, as the bank has enlisted the Minneapolis Police Department to protect the property against trespassers de jure.

{MPD officers guard the back alley of the Cruz home. One officer flashes a peace sign. "We don't want to be involved in these actions, but legally when we get a call from an owner on a trespass we have to respond," said Minneapolis Police Chief Tim Dolan on Tuesday according to the Star Tribune.}

The home was foreclosed upon as a result of a bank error that activists say PNC has admitted to. However, as with many bits of fallout from the financial crisis, a resolution has yet to be reached.

The struggle surrounding the Cruz home has recently become a focal point of the burgeoning Occupy Homes movement's struggle to stop foreclosures and encourage the renegotiation of loans between banks and homeowners by physically occupying properties to prevent evictions and raise awareness.

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