Sheriff's deputies broke down a door at a south Minneapolis address at 4 a.m. Friday and arrested five people who had chained themselves inside to prevent a foreclosure eviction.

Deputies had to use saws to cut away pipes, known as "sleeping dragons," which covered the chains and make it more difficult and potentially more dangerous to free them.

The Occupy protesters said that despite the foreclosure, the Cruz family had been renegotiating the mortgage loan on 4044 Cedar Av. S. with PNC Bank in Pittsburgh and that the arrests were unnecessary.

Sheriff Rich Stanek said he had no proof of that and that his deputies were carrying out a lawful eviction order from Hennepin County housing court. He said protesters had the option to leave and seven did. Five didn't and were arrested for obstructing the legal process.

"We treated them with the utmost respect," he said.

The protesters did not see it that way, chanting "Shame shame shame" at a rally at City Hall where Minneapolis City Council Members Elizabeth Glidden, Cam Gordon and Gary Schiff spoke in solidarity.

The protesters, who have been occupying houses to prevent foreclosures since last fall, then marched to Stanek's City Hall office where eventually sheriff's representatives met with Schiff and Alejandra Cruz, a member of the family that owns the home.

Schiff said afterward that the sheriff's office should stop evicting people.

"I don't think it is a good use of public resources, but I understand that they have a court order for an eviction notice and they are just doing their jobs," he said.

PNC's lawyers should have notified the court that the family was renegotiating its loan, he said.

PNC spokesman Fred Solomon, said that it was "unlawful" for PNC to discuss its customers with a third party, including the media.

After deputies left the Cruz house Friday morning, protesters went back inside. Stanek said the eviction notice was served and deputies would not return, leaving the matter to police.

Schiff said a police official told him that neighbors had complained that protesters had been making a lot of noise and blocking the street. The official said if that stopped, police would not show up at the house this weekend, he said.

Randy Furst • 612-673-4224