A south Minneapolis woman who had refused to leave her foreclosed home after being evicted last month has been removed from the house again.
More than 40 supporters of Rosemary Williams on Friday afternoon lined the yellow tape that police used to cordon off the property, chanting and yelling as workers boarded up the house with metal sheeting and friends helped Williams carry out boxes of personal items.
"It's not over yet," Williams told the crowd when she emerged from the house, smiling through tears as she held high a bouquet of flowers.
The largely peaceful rally briefly turned physical when several protesters crossed the tape, leading to a short scuffle during which police pepper-sprayed several people and arrested half a dozen.
Williams, 60, has fought a months-long battle against foreclosure, drawing wide attention to the house on the 3100 block of Clinton Avenue.
Friends and housing-rights activists had staged a round-the-clock sit-in with her at the house since Aug. 7, when Hennepin County sheriff's deputies ordered her to leave and changed the locks. Soon after they left, a group of Williams' supporters broke in and reopened the house.
On Friday, Williams and several others were in the house at about 2:30 p.m., eating lunch and getting ready for her 2-year-old grandson's birthday party, when they heard a knock on the door.
Outside stood Minneapolis Chief Deputy Rob Allen and more than a dozen police officers. "It's a sad situation," but the courts have ruled that GMAC Mortgage owns the house, Allen said. "The bottom line is that the property owners have a right to ask us to remove trespassers who don't belong on the property."
Police brought along a Salvation Army worker to help Williams find housing, but she declined assistance, Allen said. Williams went to a friend's house Friday night and remained there on Saturday.
"The timing was bad. We didn't know she was planning a birthday party," said Allen, who said the police action had been scheduled in coordination with GMAC at a time when officers were available. "We feel bad about that."
Police arrested seven people at the house Friday; they were booked for misdemeanor offenses such as obstructing the legal process, he said. All had been released from jail by midnight Friday.
Friday's crowd included Linda Norenberg, who said she is one of several metro-area women fighting foreclosure, just as Williams has. Norenberg said she was supposed to be out of her Robbinsdale home at the end of July. "I could be next. I don't know," she said.
Williams' troubles began after she took out an adjustable-rate mortgage. Her monthly payments rose from $1,200 to $2,200 when the rate increased. She lost her job and stopped making payments. As a result, the house, which she built with her mother 26 years ago, went into foreclosure and was sold at auction last fall.
Ordered to leave by March 30, she refused. GMAC Mortgage went to court to have her evicted.
A spokeswoman for GMAC, Jeannine Bruin, said the company "tried to pursue every reasonable alternative" to keep Williams in her home.
GMAC has made several offers in the past few weeks that Williams has not accepted, according to Linden Gawboy, a volunteer with the Minnesota Coalition for a People's Bailout who had been staying at the house. At one point, the mortgage company offered her $5,000 to walk away. Later, they said she could rent the house for a year, Gawboy said.
Williams said a GMAC representative who came to the house with police on Friday gave her a check for $5,000 -- "blood money," Gawboy said.
On Saturday, Bruin disputed that characterization and said there were no conditions attached to the check. GMAC just wanted to make sure Williams had enough money to find temporary housing, Bruin said.
She also countered claims by Gawboy and Williams that GMAC should have put the $5,000 into a renegotiated mortgage. Williams doesn't have an active mortgage loan and hasn't since the foreclosure sale redemption period expired, Bruin said. "There is no mortgage loan that can be modified at this point," she said.
Williams' supporters said Saturday that they plan to hold a news conference at 2 p.m. Sunday to talk about Williams' situation and the housing crisis in general and to encourage people to contact banks and lawmakers to oppose foreclosures.Sarah Lemagie • 952-882-9016