Occupy Homes arrested on trumped up charges
Occupy Homes MN Press Release: On May 30, 15 community supporters were peacefully arrested at the foreclosed Cruz family home, linking arms and sitting on the front stoop. Though they were originally charged with trespassing, the city decided to escalate the charges. Many of these protesters now face charges of third degree riot, a gross misdemeanor that could lead to a year in prison and a $3,000 fine.
“The use of the word ‘riot’ by prosecutors to describe the Occupy Homes demonstration of May 30th would be laughable if it were not an attempt to delegitimize the most successful efforts to keep Twin Cities victims of the foreclosure crisis in their homes,” stated Rachel E. B. Lang, a local attorney working with the Occupy Homes movement. “The mayor, chief of police and city attorney are using the coercion of the criminal justice system for political purposes, trying to hide their failure to help families whose homes and savings are being taken by unscrupulous banks. The legal defense team will fight these absurd charges tooth and nail.”
“We’re getting the message: The City of Minneapolis would rather put time and resources toward prosecuting those fighting foreclosure than address the crisis or hold accountable the financial institutions responsible,” added Susan Kikuchi, an organizer with Occupy Homes MN.
Protesters demand that all charges be dropped; that all police who used violence in the course of these evictions, including Chief Tim Dolan, who was photographed stepping on peaceful protesters, be formally disciplined; and that no more public resources be used to carry out evictions.
“Minneapolis public officials have a choice to make about the priorities they display,” said Brother Ali. “We’ve lost our way as a society when wealthy banks face little or no consequences for robbing us of our family homes but everyday people who peacefully stand up to them face outrageous and dishonest charges.
The people deserve true and complete democracy. Our souls won’t allow us to settle for anything short of justice for hard working families and the people who stand with them.”
The Occupy movement in Minneapolis reached an important milestone on Monday, July 30, 2012, with the resolution of a case brought against four protesters arrested at a peaceful demonstration on Oct. 20, 2011. Judge Daniel Moreno denied the prosecutor’s attempt to add three additional charges to the original complaint less than two weeks before trial, and prevented the prosecutor from singling out individuals with previous political arrests for harsher treatment.
Ultimately, four defendants, Misty Rowan, Katrina Plotz, Ben Egerman and Peter Leeman, agreed to a conviction of one petty misdemeanor each, a non-criminal violation that is basically equivalent to a traffic ticket. Dozens of supporters attended the proceedings in solidarity with the defendants and celebrated the resolution as a victory.
This case and recent arrests of dozens of OccupyHomes MN activists defending the Cruz home in South Minneapolis show that the City of Minneapolis, through the Minneapolis Police Department and City Attorney’s Office are attempting to intimidate activists and shut down the Occupy movement with tough tactics and unreasonable charges.