UPDATE: According to Occupy Homes, there were about 125 protesters at Thursday's rally. Fifteen people were arrested in total Thursday. Thirteen were arrested at the rally including local hip-hop artist Brother Ali. The Cruz family is expected to return to PNC headquarters Friday to try to negotiate.
After protests late last month outside a south Minneapolis foreclosed house resulted in several confrontations with police and 23 arrests, Occupy Homes protesters decided to up the ante Thursday by declaring a national day of action in cities across the United States to support the family who is trying to renegotiate with PNC Bank so they can return to their home.
The #J21 Day of Action was planned to include rallies in Atlanta, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Detroit, Gainesville, Greensboro, N.C., Milwaukee, New York, Newark, Philadelphia and St. Louis.
The Cruz family had owned the house at 4044 Cedar Av. S. but after the family failed to make a mortgage payment, which supporters said was because of a computer glitch, the house went into foreclosure. After a foreclosure sale last year, the property belongs to mortgage giant Freddie Mac, which said that no one has made a mortgage payment for the house since July 2010. The family hasn't lived in the house for more than two months.
The family went to PNC headquarters in Pittsburgh on Thursday with more than 40,000 petition signatures to meet with bank management to renegotiate their mortgage, but those talks apparently fell through, according to Tweets by Occupy Homes.
Protesters plan to rally in front of the house at 6 p.m.
Earlier in the day, two protesters were arrested during a “rooftop occupation” of the Cruz home as a group deployed a large balloon banner above the house which said “Evictions Stop Here.”
Protesters have made repeated attempts to “occupy” the home that was boarded up by the city last month which has created a political dilemma for city leaders. According to a letter from police chief Tim Dolan to Mayor R.T. Rybak, the standoffs have cost taxpayers $42,429 in police activity. Dolan said the on-duty costs included work performed by him, an inspector, three lieutenants, five sergeants, 155 officers, a public information officer, a crime lab officer, three forensic scientists and two video analysts. The fire department incurred costs of $3,156, he said.